What’s Your Dream?

As a gifted storyteller Ruskin Bond continues to awaken us. The simplicity in his narration is his strength. He makes it possible: A conversation between a young boy and a ‘beggar’ makes us realize how difficult it is to retain our simple/meaningful dreams.

An old man, a beggar man, bent double, with a flowing white beard and piercing grey eyes, stopped on the road on the other side of the garden wall and looked up at me, where I perched on branch of a litchi tree.

“What’s your dream?’ he asked.

It was a startling question coming from that raggedy old man on the street; even more startling that it should have been made in English. English-speaking beggars were a rarity in those days.

To retain our initiative towards free spirited and independent journalism we require your support |Pay Now

‘What’s your dream?’ he repeated.

‘I don’t remember,’ I said. ‘I don’t think I had a dream last night.’

“That’s not what I mean. You know it isn’t what I mean. I can see you’re a dreamer. It’s not the litchi season, but you sit in that tree all afternoon, dreaming.’

‘I just like sitting here,’ I said. I refused to admit that I was a dreamer. Other boys didn’t dream, they had catapults.

‘A dream, my boy, is what you want most in life. Isn’t there something that you want more than anything else?’

‘Yes,’ I said promptly. ‘A room of my own.’

‘Ah! A room of your own, a tree of your own, it’s the same thing. Not many people can have their own rooms, you know. Not in a land as crowded as ours.’

‘Just a small room.’

‘And what kind of room do you live in at present?’

‘It’s a big room, but I have to share it with my brothers and sisters and even my aunt when she visits.’

‘I see .What you really want is freedom. ‘Your own tree, your own room, your own small place in the sun.’
‘Yes, that’s all.’

‘That’s all?  That is everything! When you have all that, you’ll have found your dream.’

‘Tell me how to find it!’

‘There is no magic formula, my friend. If I was a godman, would I be wasting my time here with you? You must work for your dream, and move towards it all the time, and discard all those things that come in the way of finding it, and then, if you don’t expect too much too quickly, you’ll find your freedom, your room of your own. The difficult time comes afterwards.’


‘Yes, because it is so easy to lose it all, to let someone take it away from you. Or you become greedy, careless and start taking everything for granted, and—Poof! –suddenly the dream has gone, vanished!’

‘How do you know all this?’ I asked.

‘Because I had my dream and lost it.’

‘Did you lose everything?’

‘Yes, just look at me now, my friend. Do I look like a king or a godman?  I had everything I wanted, but then I wanted more and more. … You get your room, and then you want a building, and when you have your building you want your own territory, and when you have your own territory you want your own kingdom—and all the time it’s getting harder to keep everything. And when you lose it –in the end, all kingdoms are lost—you don’t have your room any more.’

‘Did you have a kingdom?’

‘Something like that….Follow your own dream, boy, but don’t take other people’s dreams, don’t stand in anyone’s way, don’t take from another man his room or his faith or his song.’ And he turned and shuffled away, intoning the following verse, which I have never heard elsewhere, so it must have been his own.

Live long, my friend, be wise and strong.

     But do not take from any man his song.

I remained in the litchi tree, pondering his wisdom and wondering how a man so wise could be so poor. Perhaps he became wise afterwards. Anyway, he was free, and I was free, and I went back to the house and demanded (and got) a room of my own. Freedom, I was beginning to realize, is something you have to insist upon.

–   Ruskin Bond, Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra (Penguin, 1991)

Now that you are here...
From bottled water to oxygen cans, not even the basics are free in a market-driven world. Why then, do we take free and independent journalism for granted? We find ourselves at a time when more people like you, are reading and coming out in support of The New Leam’s independent, in-depth and throughly issue based journalism than ever before. From grassroot stories and field-reports, to in-depth analysis of the pertinent political issues of our times, to news on gender, culture and educational issues- The New Leam has been dedicated to bringing out stories that speak out the soul of India and take you beyond the propaganda-filled corridors of mainstream journalism in India. We have made an important choice of keeping our journalism free of vested political interests, commercial funding and influence of partisan stakeholders, so that we can bring forward news and stories based on facts and provide a platform where readers can find information with integrity and a journalism premised on honesty. 

Your support to The New Leam is your contribution towards giving a voice to the voiceless, going to the depths of issues that others shy away from and rigorously illuminating the flame of criticality and courage in dark times. We hope that you will come forward to support The New Leam today so that we can keep delivering quality-independent journalism to you and inform public opinion in the right direction. No matter how big or small your contribution may be, it is tremendously important. It takes only a moment, Support The New Leam now!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *