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Little Rickshaw Boy

Faraway in a small village in Bangladesh, a 10-year-old boy named Shamim lived with his mother in a little mud brick house beside the road. When his father left and didn’t come home for a long time, Shamim didn't like going back to school anymore. All he wanted was to stay home and run errands for his mother.

One day, a big idea came to his mind.

“Look, Mother, I'm strong.” Shamim flexed a muscle that bulged like a tiny ball in his arm. “I can drive a rickshaw just like the big boys in our village.”

“Well, son, I don't think you're old enough for that,” his mother argued.

“But I wish I could earn some money, too. I mean, some real pay like grownup people get. Lots of money you know, Mother.”

“Oh, well, you will earn lots of it, I hope, when you grow up and finish school,” Mother said. “There's enough time for that.” She draped her robe around her shoulder and tucked it neatly into her waist.

“But I don't want to go to school. It's boring. I want to earn some money now,” Shamim insisted. “Couldn't we go over to our neighbor's shop and rent one of his rickshaws?”

“Well, I suppose we could if he would trust you to do it. But you are only a boy, you know. I really doubt if he would.”

“You could tell him I know how to drive a bicycle.”

After Shamim had done much persuasion, Mother promised to see what she could do about it. She soon talked to the rickshaw owner who finally agreed to give her boy a chance.

Shamim suddenly felt like a grownup as he sat on the bike with the carriage ready to begin his new job! He thought it would be real fun. Probably, a lot more fun than play or school.

For a while the wheels whirled slowly, then got faster as Shamim pedaled harder through the rugged streets of the village. Diligently, he stopped to pick up a passenger or two and drove them to their destination. As the loads got heavier, Shamim pushed his legs too hard on each pedal to keep it going. The wheels jiggled and squeaked. Farther and farther he went as harder and harder he pedaled.

Hours went by. Slowly. Almost unbearably. The hot noonday sun tingled like fire in his dark, tender skin. Sweat fell like drops of rain on his face and his heart beat faster as he gasped for air. Weak and weary from his toil, the little rickshaw boy returned home.

From a distance, Shamim could see his mother standing by the doorway. A tall, familiar figure in white clothes stood by her side. “It's Father!” he cried, rushing to meet him.

“Poor child, you must be real tired,” his father said as he stroked his son's head and hugged him. “But I have some good news for you,” he declared. “I went far away so I could prepare a better future for you. Now that I'm back I want to send you to the best school. Someday, you can be a very successful and rich man in our village.”

As the family sat down for dinner, Shamim relished the refreshing smell of spices and the taste of his favorite hot curry dish and bread. He remained quiet but excited as he thought about the life his father had dreamed for him. He wanted to pursue it. But being a rickshaw boy he learned what it takes to get what he wants. Now he thought about going back to school. He thought about his dream. And finally, he decided to go for it no matter what it takes!

Arts | Fiction | Short Stories


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