The work is dedicated to one of my bestfriend’s mother Vanaja on the occasion of her birthday. Happy birthday aunty, may you live in heart of every reader who reads this. Stay blessed. 🙂

We all wished to be superhero, some or the other time;
We all tried to fly, jump and ultimately broke a leg or two;
Well, that did not stop us, did it? The mask that we had put, put an end!
Being a superhero is making that melancholic heart smile, 
Going that extra mile to serve humanity,
To not affect our innocence, humbleness and get lost by societal or peer pressure. Let us all be superheroes we dreamed of!

– Sriram Saiteja.

“Life is what you make it. “ Riya replied when Ashish asked her whether he could become a superhero someday. “Mom will be back soon, don’t go anywhere” she instructed him as she got down the car, parking outside the hospital. “But, on one deal, I want the second volume of Sherlock Holmes collection mumma” the little kid demanded with a mischievous smile. “Sure, I will buy one the next time we visit the bookstore” she kissed him and continued to walk. Little did she knew Ashish could easily lock pick; he got down the car stealthily. As he walked towards the hospital to surprise his mother, a hand stopped him from behind.

“Hello” greeted a man with dusky complexion, long beard and a huge physique with a backpack. “Get away from here” Ashish said bluntly, as he started to nimble back. “We can be friends!” the man tried convincing him further. “No thanks. I don’t trust strangers.” Ashish restrained. “I’ve heard from my friends that superheroes exist. But, now I don’t think they do!” the man started to exploit Ashish’s allure towards superheroes by noticing his t-shirt, key-chain and the cap he is wearing.

They do. I’m going to be one someday.” Ashish said, coming out of his shell. “How are you going to be a superhero when you don’t talk to strangers and get to know their problems?” the man questioned. That swept Ashish’s feet and carried him to an emotional plane.

“Friends?” Ashish asked with his eyebrows slightly raised with the kind of smile that had not hid any intentions behind; the man extended his hand for a handshake. “What is your name?” Ashish enquired. “Dharma” he said with a deep voice. “So, what is your problem?” Ashish’s empathy is something that could captivate literally anyone. “I have someone very dear to me in the hospital and I have to give this bag to them, but, can’t step inside the hospital as I don’t have enough money to clear the due.” Dharma took a breath as he finished; he was looking at the clock now and then. “And, what is inside this bag?” Ashish sounded curious. “It has some medicines and important things that should reach the person inside, failing which the person would leave the world forever!” Dharma’s agonizing voice made Ashish say, “Don’t worry Dharma, as you explained your problem to a ‘to-be-superhero’, rest assured that your problem will be solved. Handover that backpack to me and I will deliver that on your behalf. However, on one condition, stand here and let my mother know that I will be back soon.” Dharma seemed very relaxed as he heard this from the little kid, Dharma assured Ashish; the little kid took the bag and started walking. Ashish turned back with a smile and said, “Don’t let your trust in superheroes fade” and continued to walk. Dharma’s guilt started to pinch him. “We planned to kill hundreds, there is no wrong in adding one to the list!” he said to himself to dust away the guilt, not feeling anything for the ten year old who is going to die along with others in the hospital.

Before Ashish entered the hospital, something stopped him. Though he knew checking personal things is not a good habit, “after all, a superhero needs to be concerned not just about one individual but, about everyone around him!” he thought to himself as he unzipped the bag. There was a timer and wired circuitry. For sure, all the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ did not prove waste for him. He knew something was going to be terribly wrong looking at the insides in the bag. He quickly glanced at the clock that was ticking, there were only 75 seconds left. He ran through the parking lot to the dump yard to make sure no one suffers even if something goes wrong. He carefully placed the bag near the garbage, far from the hospital; he started running back to a safe distance from it before it was too late!

26th January 1995.

The lights around made the vision blurry. The tricolor flag with a royal wheel in the middle; flying high in front, gave an adrenaline rush. Slowly turning towards his mother standing beside, slightly lifting his head, the boy smiled. Before she could utter anything, a voice called them up on to the stage. Nothing could touch the passion and intensity in the little one; he still had the same innocence in his eyes. As the prime minister approached, Ashish greeted him with a big curve on his face. While handing over the highest honor ‘“Bharat Award” – a national bravery award’ that an eleven-year old could receive in India, the prime minister proudly said, “You did a herculean task Ashish. The sacrifice saved hundreds of lives! You portrayed true bravery.”

“Could I still be a superhero without my legs?” Ashish asked his mother. “You are a superhero as long as your heart beats” a happy tear rolled down her cheek, more than loss, Ashish could sense the pride in the eyes of Riya.

Copyright © 2017 Sriram Saiteja. All Rights Reserved. Any type of reproduction or tampering with the above work without permission is illegal.

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