Dreams Can’t Be Too Big
“ You’re going to Blantyre Secondary School.”
I cannot believe the news. I am finally going to my school of choice!
“ You deserve it my son.”
My mother is weeping but her tears are of joy. She is happy for me, and proud- I can it see it from the way she keeps on straightening my collar.
“We have to buy new clothes for you.”
“Don’t bother yourself Wamama. I’m only going to Blantyre after all!”
“To the city you mean. I don’t want my son to fail because he didn’t have any decent clothes. You will have two new pairs of trousers and three shirts, not forgetting the uniform.”
I open my mouth to protest but my father and mother will hear none of it. They are strong, my parents, they are. They work hard for me, for us, for everyone in the family. They really want us to succeed.
It was not easy to get the money for my school fees, but they managed. I see the strain in their weary eyes, on their hunched backs, in their tired legs. You will not hear them complaining though. Never. They say that complaints never fed anyone in this world. You have to wake up in the morning and do everything you can to live a dignified life. ‘Dignity’ is my father’s favourite word. You can be poor but that does not mean the world has to see your misery.
This is why we are always dressed in clean and well-mended clothes. We also put on shoes all the time. Our hair is always combed. No, you will not see us walking in rags. We wake up early in the morning to sweep our yard and our house. We take great care of ourselves and our environment because we know that it is necessary. It is necessary to love ourselves and where we live. We can be poor but we do not have to look poor. This is how we triumph over our circumstances.
My parents say we have to keep on dreaming. If we wallow in our misery, we will never get out of this place. We have to look farther than the horizon, higher than the sky, deeper than the lake. Our possibilities are endless, they insist. We are going to make it.
I have big dreams. My dreams are so big that they sometimes keep me awake at night. I know that I will achieve them, of course, I will. It is no use to have dreams if you cannot do anything about them. My mother says what matters is the purpose. “Dream my children, dream,” she often tells us. “ You can be anything you want in this world, you can be anything. Don’t be afraid, be strong. Be strong my children and work towards your dreams.” I love my parents, I really do. I will make them very happy one day, I will really do.
What are my dreams? Not only do I want to be a surgeon, I also want to be one of the best surgeons in my country. I know I will make it, I will. I will work hard, every single day of my life, I will.
Why do I want to be a surgeon? I could be somebody else: a businessman, a lawyer, a judge, a politician, whatever. No, I want to be a doctor who heals people. I want to see people happy. I want to see people realising their dreams. I want to see sorrow become a thing of the past.
During those restless nights, I think of my future, of what I will become, of what I will do. I picture myself receiving my final degree. I just cannot wait. This is what enables me to get out of bed at sunrise. I have so much energy, I do not know what to do with it!
When I have finished helping my parents with their chores, I sit down under the shade of our precious mango tree and then I read. I read until I cannot read any more. I read everything I can get my hands on. Each time I finish a book, I know I am getting closer to my dream.
Being selected to Blantyre Secondary School is just the first step to my bright future. My parents will no longer suffer, I promise them, they never will.
Listen to the short story on SoundCloud:
- Short Story: Dreams Can’t Be Too Big, Learn English With Africa, November 2016
- Short Story, Dreams Can’t Be Too Big (With Reading Comprehension Worksheet), Learn English With Africa, November 2016
- Short Story: Dreams Can’t Be Too Big (With Vocabulary Worksheet), Learn English With Africa, November
- William Kamkwamba: “How I Built a Windmill”
- The William Kamkwamba Story
- 15-yr-old Kevin Doe Wows M.I.T.