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                                             Boy with Dog painting by Hans Droog

(Painting “Boy with Dog”, Artist – Hans Droog)

Kaza was running behind a man. Man was covered in golden clothes from top to bottom, his long robe was hanging on his shoulders covering his back and touching the ground. Robe was cleaning the path of the boy. Kaza used to call him golden man. He saw this man running around his house on many occasions but his mother and her relatives couldn’t see him. Mystery man was visible only to his eyes. This convinced Kaza that he own some super human abilities, but none of his family members believed in him.

On that particular day, Kaza was waiting for the golden man to appear so that he could talk to him and finally become a super hero himself. Kaza used to play in that graveyard everyday with his friend, a street dog. Golden man appeared and started running, so did the boy and so did the dog, three of them were running in a row. Kaza noticed a golden flag in golden man’s hand, sometimes the flag was raising high, sometimes low but it never touched the ground. They were running between the rest places of the dead, Kaza turned back many times just to make sure that his only saviour a dog was following him. Golden man didn’t turn back, not even once. They crossed the graveyard, but kept running, now they were running between the empty houses, most probably left by those dead men and women, who were lying comfortably beneath the ground.  Those houses were nothing more than broken and deserted pieces of stone, having thousands of untold stories hanging around them.

After gathering some courage boy shouted, “Hey, golden man!! Stop!!” Golden man did not stop, he didn’t even turned his face. Boy was getting tired, suddenly, he heard a loud familiar voice calling him from the back. He recognised his mother’s voice. She was shouting, “Kaza! Come back food is ready”. Boy turned his neck slightly but didn’t replied, he knew  if their eyes will meet or if he will engage in any argument with her, he will not be able to go against his mothers orders. So he decided to ignore her calling and keep running behind his self-proclaimed destiny. After all he was trying to meet his super hero, to become a super hero himself. This event was extremely important, food could wait.  On the running track he found a stick and a dirty cloth, he tied the cloth on top of the stick, and proudly informed himself that he was an owner of the flag. Kaza started moving the stick up and down exactly like the golden man did. Now he was thinking about organizing the golden colour, golden robe and a crown. He thought, that once he will have all these things he would be transformed into a super hero, just like golden man. His dream was soon going to be fulfilled. He will not be seen by anyone, until he wish to be seen, specially by his mother and her relatives. This is going to be the best moment of his nine years of life on this earth; he will be able to play in the graveyard with his dog for hours without any motherly disturbance. While running, he saw a long scarf hanging on the shinning wire in a beautiful garden. He quickly went inside the unknown house and took the scarf away, no one saw him. It was the first time he had stolen something, his heartbeats were raising high, he was afraid of getting a brutal punishment afterwards but he didn’t cared at that moment. He tied the scarf exactly in the same way like the golden man’s robe and proudly informed himself of becoming an owner of a robe too.

Now he required two more things, a crown and a golden colour to look-alike his hero. Crown was not a problem for him, he always used to wear a self-made straw crown, pretending himself to be the king of the graveyard. But finding golden colour was becoming a problematic issue. He opened his mind horses, they ran in all the directions in search of a solution and finally found one. He knew of an isolated road on the way where many tins full of black liquid asphalt were left by the road construction workers, perhaps they forgot to carry them back or they were simply lazy.

He remembered, once his mother told him that being unique is better than copying someone. So he thought, he must not search for golden colour, he must have his own colour. He could have black colour, so he jumped in the tin and came out after few minutes. Now from top to bottom he was covered in black, liquid was oozing out from his body from all directions, he named himself “Black Opal”. For a moment, he believed he almost became a super hero – Black Opal Man!!

Black Opal was the name of the treasure, which his father owns. His father had gone to bring back his treasure from a mountain, so that his family could prosper. His mother  had informed him about this family secret just few months back on his ninth birthday. He wanted to become a super hero before his father returns. Kaza wanted to impress his father whom he had never seen before. He wanted to prove to his father that he was the man of the house in his absence.

Suddenly, he realised the distance between him and golden man had become too big. He started running again. The black colour started getting into his eyes, his cloth became very heavy, cloth from his flag was almost coming out of the stick, his crown was troubling him and he felt dehydrated and exhausted. Suddenly, the golden man stopped, the boy got scared. He turned back just to make sure his  dog was around. However, he noticed the dog was scared of the boy himself.  Kaza turned back again to finally face his hero. Golden man’s face was covered with the golden mask. Dog ran away making a crying noise. Black Opal stood right in front of the Golden Man, thinking where could he find a mask just like his hero, same but different, in his understanding – unique.

Golden man came close to the boy and asked him to go back home, Kaza denied. Golden man turned back and started walking, boy followed again. He again stopped, and asked the boy to go back to his mother, boy again denied. This happened several times and then Golden man came closer to the boy and told him, “You want to be like me, do you know who I am”. Boy got scared; he didn’t know what to do, so he stood still without moving.

Before he could think of running, golden man took out his mask and informed him that he was his father. He even showed him an old family picture of his mother, his father and him. Boy was partly convinced. Kaza was in a complete shock – the face of his hero was full of scars. Golden Man sat on the ground and started crying loudly. Kaza’s hero was crying, he could not accept it, he thought, why is he crying, heroes never cry. He stood there for a while watching him making loud noises, and weird faces. His super hero robe was also wet from his tears. After few minutes of outburst Golden man took control of himself and informed his son that his mother had been lying to him about the treasure story.

The fact is, his father was a thief and while performing his self-acclaimed heroic act of breaking in someone’s house he got burned by an accident, caused by the leaking gas, followed by a house fire which had trapped him from all sides. He came out alive of that house but since than he lost his face value and respect in the society as well as in the family.  Now he lives all alone in the jungle where no one can see him.  Sometimes he visits boy’s house to see him growing from a distance, to meet his mother and to get some food. Just out of compassion his mother gives him something to eat but she doesn’t love him anymore and she doesn’t want his son to become like him. That’s why she as well as all the relatives always pretends in front of him that they could not see the golden man. But in this confusion created by everyone, Kaza thought he had some special powers to see super heroes, which no one could see besides him. Golden man apologised for creating such non-realistic dreams, simply to stay a hero in the child’s life long memory.

Suddenly, they heard the voice of some villagers, golden man ran away like a mouse to hide in his bill. Kaza stood there like a dripping cloth being hanged on the wire to dry. His mother came running, gave an angry look to the back of his father and brought the boy back home.

Mother and Son, 1840; Painting by Thomas Sully

(Painting “Mother and Son” , Artist – Thomas Sully, 1840)

He walked back towards home with his caring mother, creating black footsteps on the way. Footsteps, which no one ever created before in his community, he became unique, but he did not acknowledge his accomplishment. His heart, dreams and identity got a big blow; he was still in a shock. When he came out of the shock, he decided to become an excellent ordinary man. He never followed his black footsteps again in his life. He understood the meaning of being unique, at the same time he also understood the meaning of the proverb, all that glitters is not gold. From that day onwards, he never followed anyone, he respected honourable people but grew up to be Kaza, unique son of his unique mother.

He told his next generation, that some footsteps were marked to remind humankind that they must never be followed.

Author: Rashmi R-R

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Dedicated to all the single mothers who are trying to protect their children.

Children deserve to hear the truth about their lost parents – good or bad. Please do not create an image in their innocent mind which is based on a false story, they must know the reality from the beginning. Protect your child from running behind Golden Man/ Woman.

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