Chasing and losing happiness

November 9, 2008
By Muhammad Munib Zia Khan, Karachi, ZZ

The golden dreams:

Jim belonged to a very poor family. He had a little sister, named Ella, along with his parents and they all used to live in a village. But he was no ordinary boy. He wanted to be rich like the people he saw on television everyday. He always thought of earning to the point of providing his family with the basic necessities of life and the joys which came along with them. He had always wanted of sending his little sister to a good school where she could get education; something he was devoid of himself. Fortunately, for him, his hopes of being rich could be fulfilled. One of his Uncles had gone to the nearby city and had told Jim how easily he could make money in the city.

“You’ll be an example from rags to riches, my son” was the way he used to put it in front of him.

This alone was sufficient to make up Jim’s mind. Since that day forward he had been getting ready to leave for the city. When the day finally arrived and Jim was waving his family from the bus’s widow, his mother said,

“Our future is in your hands…make us proud son.” Jim only smiled back in response. He was feeling determined more than ever and was optimistic about his journey and whatever lied ahead.

They always say the grass is greener on the other side when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. Well, much the same happened with Jim too. The city of his dreams had turned out to be a totally different place than he had thought. There were so many people yet there was no one to talk to. They ran like robots on the street, everyone occupied with some work at hand. Jim stood staring at their faces for the first few days, hoping to see someone who could guide him … someone he knew.

A strange new world:

Jim tried hard and even harder but he was not hired permanently any where. He applied for a job and was rejected because he had no qualifications. He applied to work as a waiter but here too he was rejected for reasons he could not understand.

“You’ve got no experience, kid,” that’s what the husky manager, with a cigar and curved moustaches, had told him. And that was something he had to live with.
Disappointed and dejected he made his way to a dark alley unintentionally. A teenage boy, dressed untidily, approached him and asked him to follow. At first Jim resisted. Seeing this, the boy placed some cash in his hands. Jim had never seen so much money. He was lost in a strange world. A world where only rich people lived happily. Considering the paramount load of bad luck he had experienced since his arrival in the city, this act appeared to him as an act of kindness. By the time he had gained consciousness again, he found himself talking to a group of untidily dressed boys under the street light.

“Hello, my name is Toni” said the eldest with a croaked voice, drawing out the hand to shake his. Jim thought for a second, gazed at the money in his hand and shook the stranger’s hand. Next he offered him a new cigarette which Jim acknowledged willingly. He had entered in a whole new world.

One year later Jim had totally changed. He was no longer a poor village boy looking for work; he was a rich man now. He was the “player’ in the crime world. He had not chosen this way, it had been chosen for him.

He had bought a large furnished house for his family too and they had shifted to the city with him. His little sister started going to school and his father worked in a shop. When asked how he was making so much money he simply replied that he worked in a big company, that’s all.

He had been rich, but at a cost of something even he didn’t know until one day.

Jim, being the ‘player’ now was loading his pistol and munching snacks when his partner stormed in telling him that everything was set. Jim gave him a look which declared let’s do it. They had been planning to rob a bank this time. Jim had stayed awake for nights planning on this and had excused his parents saying that he was out of town for some urgent work, one lie after another, as usual.

The punishment:

They waited in their car parked opposite the central gate and waited for the right time. An hour later, Jim rushed out of the car towards the central gate, waving his pistol in the hand, aiming to take someone as a hostage. Unfortunately, the police were there disguised a civilians. They started shooting at Jim and his fellows. They shot back and the crossfire began. The shooting continued for half an hour and luckily Jim escaped. He gasped a sigh of relief as he sped his way to his place, thanking himself for such a heroic act. He knew many people might have been among the dead or injured, but he didn’t care because he was alive and well.

Back with his friends he was watching TV when some news being reported live, hit him more forcefully than any police officer’s bullet would have.

“Almost ten people had died in the shootout, children among them too.” The reporter said.

The names were being shown and ….Ella….it read.

Jim thought he would die at that point. It was her sister. How could he do this? His heart began beating as if it would burst out of his chest. His world had shattered. He forgot all the fame and money he had earned at that very moment.

Staggering, he made his way to his house hoping someone might forgive him there. On seeing a large crowd of mourners gathered at the front door he could do nothing but return. Of course, they didn’t know he had done it, but that was a big lie wasn’t it! He did it, yes, he alone did it. Deep down in his heart he was aware of this bitter truth.

His weary steps took him to the police station. He agreed upon giving himself in police custody.

Two years later, October eighth 1997, Jim stood on a ramp where he was about to be hanged. He had realized how wrong he had been all his life. How the thirst for money and fame had led him astray to the wrong way. How in trying to shape out a happy life for himself and his family he had snatched the very happiness out of their lives. He had lost his peace of mind and was about to loose his life now. He didn’t care because he deserved it. He had been rich, but at a price. A price he was willing to pay now.

The author's comments:
My message is only to portray a part of modern day youth which is involved in unfair practices. I wish they know the consequences of it.

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