Saturday, November 14, 2009


Hope- A simple enough four letter word. Fuel- another simple four letter word. When these two simple words precede the most complex four letter word- Life, the sentence thus formed gives the eternal meaning of existence. Hope fuels Life.

This meaning was all but lost in little Camara’s deserted village near Ethiopia. Plagued with all sorts of epidemics ranging from meningitis to malaria the scent of death loomed large over this fast extinguishing tribal village. Eight out of ten people who came down with fever lost their lives for want of medicines and it soon became a preconceived notion that a person who came down with fever would ultimately lose his life.

Such was the case with twelve year old Camara. He lay motionless on the straw strewn floor of their mud house. The local physician or Shaman had given up all hope. Camara could hear the conversation between his father and the old man. Apparently, his days were numbered. Though his body ached all over, his eyes swelled with infection and his head swam with drowsiness his senses were still sharp. What was going on around him was a pre funeral, he realized. Everyone looked resigned and defeated. Camara did not want to die. How could someone only twelve years of age die? Surely he should live. He couldn’t understand why the Shaman did not give him any herbs, like the ones he had given to Abu. Or why he didn’t try to drive the evil spirits away from Camara’s body, like he had done to Bwana. Both Abu and Bwana were more than thirty years of age, and he was after all twelve. He wanted to ask all of this to his father or to the Shaman but he could barely open his mouth. So he lay there, fighting…praying…

Assefa entered his village after six years of struggle as a contract worker in the capital, Addis Ababa. Having scurried like a winter apprehensive squirrel, he had managed to save a small fortune which he intended to invest in developing his beloved village and its people. The abundant energy waiting to burst from his inside was met with unnerving stillness and gloom all around him as he walked on the empty streets leading to his house. The massive crowd outside his house belied the pin drop silence inside it. On entering, he was met by pairs and pairs of dejected eyes, all except one pair- That of Camara. Though swollen and watery with infection, they didn’t show pain or dejection. On the contrary, they blazed with fight, with spirit. Assefa was flabbergasted by the news of the waiting to happen death of his brother. “I am going back now. I won’t return without a cure”, he promised and took off.

Next day, as the sun rose above the wintry horizon, a new sound accompanied the usual chirping of birds and howling of dogs. It was a shriek of joy coming from the distant north street. As people gathered around to see the source, a single figure, flushed in the face with signs of victory, came running towards them holding a gleaming phial of liquid in his hand. “I secured the medicine”, Assefa shouted to the scattered cheers and generally puzzled silence of his onlookers.

Assefa looked at his brother’s face and whispered, “You are not going to die. I have the medicine that will cure you. You are going to get up and run about in no time.” The eyes gleamed even brighter.

The surrounding glum had transformed into tense expectations and a flurry of hopeful murmurs as drops of liquid fell from the phial into Camara’s mouth.

All it took was 48 hours.

Camara’s father gazed lovingly at the little fellow chasing stray dogs around with a tyre and a stick. He then turned to his elder boy who was sitting beside him. “We owe it all to you, my boy. That wonder medicine you brought saved your brother’s life”, he said with tears in his eyes.

Assefa remained quiet for sometime. He then turned and looked at his father. There was a triumphant glint in his eyes as he said “All I gave Camara was a phial of Sweetened Water. He was cured by the medicine inherent in him. The medicine called Zest…The medicine called Passion…The medicine called HOPE…”

Footnote: The unorthodox cure mentioned in the above story is termed as ‘PLACEBO EFFECT’ by doctors, where in a patient is given an inert medicine and made to believe that he is going to get cured by it. Though medical experts may name it after renowned professionals, for laymen like us it will always be known as HOPE…

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful .. Sensationally written with an absolutely profound message in the end ...
    Markedly different from your other stories, this one is an absolute classic ...
    Hats off and yes ... keep the faith !!!