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The Courage to Survive

by Shahmeer Adnan, 09 years, Grade 04, Pakistan. Hobbies: Drawing, Painting, Football Playing, Taekwondo

As they say: “All is well, that ends well”. We received this heart-wrenching story from Shahmeer, a 9-year-old boy from Pakistan as an entry to one of our ‘Culture & Heritage’ contests.  Reading it gave us goosebumps. There was a lot of pain, sorrow, and loss in the story and at one point it felt, they are never-ending. We were in for the surprise, as Shahmeer depicted beautifully the light beyond the tunnel with his ending thus, highlighting that all the suffering was worth it. We realized that the young lad has the power to observe & absorb everything. It’s a rare virtue, for a 9-year-old generally writes about fairy tales, shining knights, or Captain America as they live in their own beautiful world oblivious to the sadness around. The world needs more empaths like Shahmeer today who can feel the pain without being in other’s shoes. It’s these children, who shall lead the way forward for you, me, and the whole humanity. We publish the story in its original form to celebrate the vivid imagination of the child at its best instead of polishing it and thus, maligning. 

Once upon a time, in a village, there was a poor family of twenty people. They earned money by growing wheat and selling it in the city. Some creatures started to destroy their crops. It started to ruin all of their vegetables and wheat. One night the person on duty saw a herd of deer destroying their crops. Then everyone decided to cover the crops with fences for protection. After that, they grew a great amount of wheat and vegetables for selling them in the city. There were lots of families in the village. By selling the wheat for some years they had saved enough money to live in the city.

Therefore, the whole family started their journey to the city on donkey carts. When they were traveling, the weather became rough and cold. Because of the storm, many people died but some of them survived. Earlier, they had decided to live in different houses. But they ended up living in one because they felt protected living together. There were only two children, two teens, and three adults left. It was decided that their children should get education. On the other hand, adults started working on daily wages.

The children and the teens used to make artworks on the sides of their donkey cart. Therefore, their donkey cart became a hot favorite attraction for the people in the city. People used to prefer to have a ride over such a masterpiece. It reminded them of their culture.

One day, one of the adults was going on his donkey cart on a busy road. Suddenly, a fast-moving car came drifting. It hit him and smashed his cart! His cart had met a bad accident. Many people gathered to help him at that time. They took him to the hospital in an emergency because he was in a critical stage. His home mates saw the news on TV about his accident. They went to the hospital as soon as they can. They were in his room and crying with tears. They had faced many difficult times together with all the hopes and dreams. They were very sad. They were talking to him and suddenly the machine got pppprrrrreeee!!!!! He had died. They cried and said, “please don’t leave us”. Everyone in the funeral picked the body with a heavy heart. They sadly dug the ground and buried him. Even after so many days, they still remained very sad and upset with the death of their dear pal of hard times.

One day the remaining adult was dropping his children at school, suddenly a fast-moving van came and snatched his child away and forcefully grabbed him in their van. The adult tried to follow the van but it was lost. Then he went to the police station to report about the kidnap. The kidnappers forced the kid to beg from people with a threat to cut their legs and arms. Then they left him on the road to beg in the morning and took him back at the hideout at sunset. He could not even try to escape on the road because they had people on duty who watched them how they were doing. One of the people in the police was teaming with the kidnappers. He knew everything and also about the hideout of the kidnappers but the kidnappers were bribing him not to tell others about it. When the unfaithful policeman was calling the kidnappers, one of the other policemen heard him and immediately told the head of the police. One night the police came to the place where they had kept the kidnapped children. The police fought with them to get them in jail. After the fight, the police had safely recovered the children and returned them to their parents. He received many thanks from the parents. That was a great happy moment for all of them after so many scratches of worries. The next day was celebrated by decorating their cart with artistic work. They painted their cart with colors of joys.

After the passage of many years, the same children grew up while doing part-time jobs to help their parents. They sideways continued their education in evening educational institutes. Their mom’s words always resonated that hard work never goes waste. It used to give them a relaxing hope to keep moving forward in life. Both brother and his sister were great moral support for each other in all their difficult times.

Then after some years, they thought of opening a local art shop in the city and placed their donkey cart at the entrance of their shop. They started bringing the handicraft and wooden craftwork from their native village in their shop. Gradually with the income from the shop, they opened a small community school for poor people of all age groups. Life skills, education, solutions to problems by group thinking, and learning local art and crafts work along with local music in the background grabbed the attention of the whole city.
This brought great peace to them as they were now able to pay back to their community. They introduced their village as a worth watching tourism point. The money obtained from tourism was planned to be used for the welfare of the poor villagers. Every day a one-time meal in evening was distributed for free to the poor villagers. Their mom used to tell the story of serving the poor. She used to say it is like sowing a single wheat seed and obtaining the whole stem full of wheat grains.

They were watching their childhood story coming real in front of their eyes every evening. It gave them immense peace at heart. Now they understood that all the difficulties they and their families have faced were the process of cracking their seeds. Great continuous hard work had made them strong enough to lend their hands to the needy ones around them. The cool breeze in the starry night touched them. Their hearts were glowing with the shine of their courage.

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