“What the hell, boy”, my mom screamed at me. Her face was plush red from anger. She didn’t bother exerting control over her rage. I wouldn’t blame her. I couldn’t blame her. We were down on our luck and we had reached our last resort. I was to set things right and I failed miserably.
The name is Jack. My mom and l live in meagre poverty. We do not hold on to much worldly possessions. A battered cottage, a near anorexic cow. We share over living space with rats. I don’t think we’ve ever seen gold. Days got tough and mom had a tough choice to make. Sell the cow, she instructed me.
I’m sure that the whole village considers me to be a village idiot. I’m not the smartest one around. Far from it. I don’t take pride in my simple stupid ways of life. I’m stuck being it. I could go on and blame education or the lack of it. We couldn’t afford one. I wish that books really could impart wisdom. I guess I’ll never know. Being stupid is like being born with a disability. Its always there. There is no escaping it. The world secretly , behind your back, scoffs at it. They remind you that you aren’t like them. They remind you that you aren’t normal. I guess that’s all that the world ever did. Remind me things.
Mom was sweet. She’d never let me feel stupid. She treated me like how she treated the world. She made me feel special. She was always patient with me. She’d always go that extra mile to explain things to me in a way I could understand well. Yeah, she’s been a gift and a blessing. She instructed me to sell the cow off at this nearby market place. She explained the road that I should be taking. She explicitly stated that I was to accept nothing less than twelve shillings for the bag of bones that our cow was. It made sense. All I had to do was walk the road, make that sale and head back home.
I set off early the following day. Mom had packed a modest meal for the journey. I had a pouch of water, stale bread and dried out cheese. I ate a little and then kept the rest aside for the return journey. As the sun packed heat, I decided to rest under the welcoming shade of the tree nearby. It was when I met this old man. He looked feeble. I offered him the bread and cheese. The old man felt happy with the kind gesture. He said he would gladly offer me 3 magical beans in exchange for the cow.
I knew mom would not be happy with the trade. I politely refused. I said twelve shillings. I was instructed to sell the cow for nothing less than twelve shillings. the old man laughed at my innocence. He said that the beans were made of magic. He said that he beans would make us rich beyond our wildest imaginations. He said that I could look after my mother well and we’d spend rest of our lives in comforts and without worries. He promised that we would never ever go hungry again.
I pondered over it for a while. The money and the riches did not interest me. I knew my mother worked really hard. I wanted to set things right for her. I never wanted her to starve ever again. I accepted the offer and made it back home.
I told mom about the trade. I expected her to smile, and hug me with joy. That never happened. She got furious. She threw the beans out of the window.
What the hell Jack, she screamed and slapped me. I went to bed hungry and in tears that evening.
What did I do wrong? Was it wrong for me to believe in a little miracle. I had been nice to the old man. I offered him food, the last morsel that I had left. I was kind to him and he still chose to fleece me. Was it a sin for me to be the way I was? I was cursed with stupidity, and there was nothing I could do to fix it. I felt cheated and felt devastated at how the world treated me. To hell with magic and miracles, I declared. Stupid or otherwise, I am going to find work tomorrow morning. Stupid or otherwise, I am going to make money, save it plenty and provide a life that my mother deserves.
It rained that night.