Image by Tanzid Mahmud from Pixabay 

(Knocking on the door)

"Who?" A man said, wearing a blue suit with a white shirt.

"May I come in sir," A manly voice came.

"Yes! Come in," The man permitted.

Another man, wearing a black suit with a grey shirt came in, "The award show will start at 8 pm. I hope you will wait, sir," He said politely.

"Okay… not a problem, Tim," the man replied.

(Cloud thundered)

"Today's weather is pretty pleasant," Tim appreciated.

"Every weather is," the man replied, "Would you like to hear a story?" The man asked.

"Umm… ya! Of course," Tim said.

"Well… it's a kinda boring story so bear with it,"

(Both chuckle)

"The story began from a small town in Uttar Pradesh where there lived two friends, Shariq and Hussain, both were in high school, the same school… the same class.

"Today I'm gonna distribute your maths answer sheet," the teacher said.

"Abdul! Nice attempt… Asim! Son, just pass this year……. Hussain…"

Hussain got close to his table.

"Work harder!" The teacher said.

"Yes sir!"

"Hussain's relationship with studies was a bit toxic… "


"... While with Shariq…"

"Highest in the class," the teacher complimented.

"Thank you, sir"

"It's better than Romeo and Juliet,"

"How much did you get?" Hussain asked Shariq, who was sitting next to him.

"85," He replied.

"85! Man I got 55 but you know, I improved with the last time," Hussain said proudly.

"Really! That's good, with how many marks?" Shariq asked.

"Umm…(Hussain made a victory sign)"


"No! No! Two marks,"

"Ohh… well that's too good a thing," Shariq said with a smile.

"Yes! Look, improvement is an improvement," Hussain said.

A boy leans forward, "Woah! 85! That's huge," The boy was surprised.

"That's what your crush said!" Hussain said jokingly.


(Both shariq and Hussain began to laugh)

"Boys!" Teacher yelled.

"Sorry, sir!" Hussain said, hiding his laugh.

"They usually joke around a lot but… every teen have some problems so they have too,"

"I'm home," Shariq said while he entered the house.

"I don't understand what's your problem!" A man said.

"Your taunting is my problem!" A woman said.

"Shut up!!" A man shouted.

"Shariq's parents usually argue which made his heart into smithereens. He just ran into his room. He has an elder brother too who worked in a company with nominal wages, his brother too usually looks depressed and upset. On the other hand, Hussain…"

"I'm home," Hussain said.

"Hussain was lonely and with… lonely I mean literally… lonely. He went to his room put up a family photo which was framed"

"Assalam walekum! In a maths exam, I got 55… I know… I know you guys are expecting more but maths is hard but trust me! Next time… I will beat everyone in school… ok school is kinda more. In a class… in a class(he touched the photo) I love you both" he put the photo back, "okay, let's eat something" he stood and headed towards the kitchen.

Tomorrow morning in school.

"Hey! Sharia," Hussain called him.

"Hey," he replied in a very low tone.

"What happened buddy? You look gloomy today," Hussain asked.

"Nothing different… my parents argued again," Shariq replied.

"Oh… I see… you know… once I read in a book that people who fight the most love each other the most," Hussain tried to soothe him.

"Well… whoever wrote that… doesn't get involved in a fight," Shariq said.

"(Hussain laughed nervously) Maybe…"

"Hey, guys!" Someone called him.

"Any… my boy, Taser!" Hussain said.

"It's Taisir!! Not taser!" Taisir said.

"Sorry… Sorry! Your name is very confusing," Hussain said.

"Anyway… your short story is published in the school annual magazine," Taisir said.

"This put him on cloud nine. He took the magazine and began to see his short story featured. He flipped through random pages. On one page he saw a portrait,"

"Woah! Who made this(he checked the name) Shariq Kazmi! Bro, you made this!"


"Man! This is outstanding, you can easily outshine Leonardo da Vinci,"

"Leo… Leonardo da Vinci! He was a genius," Shariq said nervously.

"So what? Every age has its known geniuses and we two are of this age!" Hussain said enthusiastically.

"You sound like a motivational speaker," Taisir said.

"What you said… is amazing but…" Shariq said.


"But in reality, it's extremely hard!" Shariq said.

Hussain tapped his shoulder and said, "I'm aware of this but our dreams are too extreme! All you need is smart work and patience,"

"Well… I think you are right," Shariq said with a smile.

"That's my man!"

"Hussain is kinda an optimistic guy," Tim said.

"I think so…" The man said.

"I have a query?" Tim questioned.


"If Hussain lived alone then whom did he say that he was home?"

"Good question! Hussain itself has an answer,"


"He wrote a poem:

I'm home oh! My loneliness

I'm home oh! Spirits if any.

Another dismal night… another moonless night.

I got scared when I have a good dream

As they are very rare

At least I'm not alone

In my nightmares.

"That's hit hard although it's simple but deep," Tim said.

"Hmm… let me continue my story,"

(After school)

"I'm home," Hussain said.

"He ascended the stairs, again putting up the family photo.

"Ammi! Abu! My short story is featured in the magazine! I know you are proud of me… I think so… I promise you both that one day I will become the world's greatest writer, everyone will know my name, autographs, I made millions of dollars and then establish a school and give it to your names. Oh, by the way, look at this portrait… my friend Shariq made this(he put the photo back) I love you both,"

"Talking to a picture… that's depressing! How's he even living like this," Tim said to the man.

"An average boy from a small town has universe-like goals… maybe that's the reason he was still living…"

"I'm home! Assalam walekum, mammy," Shariq said.

"Walekum Assalam! How's your day," his mom said in a low tone. "His mother was sitting on a chair, looking sorrowful. Shariq could easily notice the numbness in her eyes,"

"I bet they argued again," Shariq thought, after looking at his mother's dull face.

"It's good(he put the magazine in front of her) my painting published in the magazine,"

"That's great… you must be hungry, let me bring you lunch,"

"Shariq knew that there was pain behind his mother's smile. As you are aware Tim, that teens have carved for attention, they love when someone appreciates them… and this is important too cuz that appreciation motivates them to do more and better… So, Shariq do the same,"

"Brother," Shariq called his brother who was doing his work.


"My painting… Get published," Shariq said.

"Good! Doing extra stuff is good but focus on your studies… these are more important," his brother said.

"Shariq exited the room, where he catch him,"

"Why are you here?" His father asked.

"A- actually my painting is published in the magazine," Shariq said.

"Unless! Instead of making these, focus on your studies more and yes after the 10th I will send you to Kota,"

"Kota!!" Shariq was surprised.

"Yes! any issue,"

"Is it… is it important to do engineering?" Shariq asked.


"But I'm not interested in that…"


"WHAT DO YOU MEAN!" His brother stood up.


(Hearing the voices, shariq mother came out of the room)


"Imran! What is that tone… he is your father!" Shariq's mother stopped him.

"Oh! Give me a break! you taught him all this… mother like son like," Shariq father taunted.

"He's not just my son,"

"Well… I doubt that he's my son,"

"ABU!!!" Imran raged.

"Shariq couldn't tolerate that anymore… he ran into his room, locked it, closed his ears tightly and began to cry. Days passed and the time had come… the time which haunts every student, the time which converts any atheist into religious, the time nobody wants, the "Henry Fischel" time aka exam time,"

"So the scheme is finalized," Taisir said, who was standing with Hussain, straying at the scheme attached to a notice board.

"There is a six days gap in Hindi and just one day gap in chemistry. Wh… Why! ICSE why?" Hussain said.

"Ya, we have to be strategic. Where is Shariq? He was absent today," Taisir asked.

"Parent problems! He didn't tell me much nor did I ask. He's a little disturbed," Hussain replied.

"Why did his parents fight that much! I mean there is something called mental health,"

"For Indian parents, unicorns and mental health have the same status, they didn't exist!" Hussain said.

*both sighs*

"It's time to study. We have just a month," Taisir said. They went from here to attend their classes,"

(knocking at the door)

"Come in," the man said.

"The award is going to begin in ten minutes," A man interrupted the story Tim was listening to.

"Noted… thank you," Tim said.

"Please! don't mention it," the man said respectfully.

"Okay then let's get ready!" The man said.

"Hey! Hey but…"

"But what?"

"T-the story you haven't complete it yet,"

"You want to listen. Might take more than ten minutes,"

"Just skip the useless part if any,"


"Let's fast forward to the day which gave tension even to Tranquillitas… The result day,"

"I am scared," Hussain said standing with Taisir and his other two friends Anirudh and Salman.

"Me too," Anirudh said.

"Same condition," Salman said.

"I shit on my pants," Taisir said.

"Gross! Really!" Hussain said.

"No idiot! It's just slang!"

"Ohh… thank god," Hussain relieved, "Guys I have a plan," he added.

"What?" Anirudh asked.

"Send one guy who sees everyone result,"

"And who is that one guy," Anirudh said.


"Oh… Wha… wait! Why me?"

"Please bro! Please…" Taisir said.

"Okay! You guys owe me!" Anirudh said.

He returned after a while.

"How's our result?" Salman asked.

He took a pause and said, "My homies got above 85!!!"

"Yayyyyy" in unison.

"They all are extremely happy but there was one…"

"Hey! Shariq looks upset today," Anirudh noticed.

"... who lumps in the throat"

"What happened? Buddy," Hussain asked.

"Nothing!" Shariq stood and went away.

"Shariq!" Anirudh called him but he ignored him.

"What the f**k! He ignored me!" Anirudh said.

"Calm down! Something happened to him!" Taisir said.

"I think… I know the reason," Salman said softly.


"One day, he called me. Saying that he can't concentrate on his studies because of constant family problems. I told him to ignore it but he can't…" Salman said.

"Are they ignorant? Can't they see!" Taisir said angrily.

"Relax… we can't drag ourselves into his family matter,"

"I got an idea!" Hussain said.


"Let's cheer him up on his birthday… we can't solve his problem but we can give him some good memories," Hussain said with a smile.

"Not a bad plan," Anirudh said.

"Alright, guys! Let's give him a grant party!" Salman said.

"But… where did we celebrate his birthday?" Anirudh said.

"You guys consider my home," Hussain said.

"They're gonna be messy, are you sure about that?" Salman said.

"Not a problem at all,"

"Okay…" Salman said.

"On the day of Shariq's birthday. All three of them reached Hussain's house. They decorate it a little, brought some snacks, drinks and of course a cake,"

"All things are done. Salman, go bring Shariq," Anirudh said.

"Alright, Taisir, I take your scooty,"

"Drive safely," Taisir said.

Salman drove away.

"Concern about Salman! I see," Anirudh said.

"I'm concerned about my scooty," Taisir said.

"Hey, Hussain!" Taisir called him.

"Yes, taser!"

"It's Taisir!"

"Sorry… sorry! My bad,"

"I want to ask… Do you ever miss… your parents?"

"Of course, I miss them every day. I can't change the reality that I'm an orphan," Hussain said in a low tone.

"Hey! Don't you dare to call yourself an orphan,"


"Cuz I am still alive, your brother,"

"Hussain can't hold his emotions and hugged him with tears in his eyes"

"Thank you," Hussain said.

Anirudh also hugged them.

"Hey! Why do you do that,"

"I don't know,"

Hussain wept his tears.

(doorbell rang)

"Anirudh opened the door and found Salman standing with his head down…"

"What happened? Where is Shariq?"

"Salman raise his head, his eyes are numb)

"He is no more… he committed suicide," Salman said sobbingly.

"This news… turned celebration into mourning. Nobody believed him first until they saw Shariq's grave… another dream was shattered.

Tim was quiet. He doesn't know what to say.

"After the investigation… they found a letter written by him and the last line of the letter are "Dear God, you rather made me an orphan"

The man finished his story before Tim could say something, the same man told them the award show was going to begin. They both left the room and sat in their respective places in a massive beautiful auditorium. The host began the show.

"So, our next category is Best Story(He said four names, who are nominated) and now I would like to invite on stage the very legendary actor Keanu Reeves!"

Everyone began to applaud as they heard his name. He came on stage.

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen(He opened the shining black envelope) the award goes to… Hussain Askari"

The man stood in his place.

"Congratulations!" Tim said.

Hussain came on stage, took the award and stood on the podium.

"Thank you for this prestigious award. I have a lot of people to thank and I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees. Before anything, I want to talk about a crime. A crime that a lot of people committed and the worse part is there is no punishment for it…The crime is to murder someone dream. A dream that at one point save me from ending my life. I request all the parents that please, give your child a chance to do what he wants to do and I know parents are not to be blamed as their generation and this generation has a massive difference. We thought that if we made our children follow our path, they would be happy in life… That's a myth… you are just putting your burden into them and a more burden which he is unable to lift and end his life. So, how do we change that? We change that by changing our mindset. Suicide is haram but dragging a person to the point that he has no choice but to end his life is worst than haram..."

(Everyone gave him a standing ovation)

"M-My last two lines: first mental health is a thing! And second, stop complaining! get up, work and make your presence known! Make your dream a reality!"

Everyone applauded thunderously. Hussain looked at the crowd one last time and saw Shariq, that same 17 years old Shariq, clapping, smiling and then vanishing into the crowd.

.    .    .