Desire (Short Story)

"Welcome to the Hotel California ... 
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face..."
(Hotel California - Eagles - playing on stage)

"A... F... C... E7... A minor"... the guitar chords running like a machine in his head.

He was at home playing it on stage with his group of besties, his band, they liked to call "D3Z1R3! (desire)... picked from the initials of the three band members. Still in college, he had always dreamed of making it big in the music circuit, playing to large crowds screaming their names, posters in bedrooms and shows around the whole world. Playing at this college fest tonight, gave him a taste and the high he needed to push on towards his dreams.

Music was his life.

"That was some performance by... Deeeee Zireee!... the compere for the evening, excited, just like the crowd cheering for them.

Lifting his cheap, yet well maintained electric guitar in one hand and other rolled into a fist, he was taking it all in, life... on the right path; the smile on his face, the happiness he felt, he could never feel that with anything else. Even though he had managed to get himself into Engineering for his parent's happiness, the only thing he ever wanted to be... was a musician. If only, his parents could understand.

"Is this the time to come home?" his father, clearly pissed.

"Dad, it was the college fest and I was performing", his only defence.

"Have you ever tried giving this much effort to your studies ever? Always ready to be pulling those godforsaken strings, but, mention studies to the young man and all the world's excuses are ready!", his voice ringing high in the silence on this dark and chilly night.

Living in the small apartment complex, with literally no private space between houses, he knew the whole floor could hear him being screamed at. Their one-bedroom apartment they lived in, scrawling with furniture and stuff lying around was already too small for them. The houses so close to each other, the whole floor practically lived like one big family in one big house, with everyone's nose in everyone's business.

"Dad, please don't start this! I have never failed in any exam! If I am able to manage my music with my studies, then what is the problem here?"

"The problem is that this damn thing is a big distraction! You need to grow into a big engineer with a good life for yourself, not die here, in this tiny room like your father!"

"What's wrong with this place? It's still home, isn't it? It's our own hard-earned money, isn't it? So what if I become a musician and not an engineer?"

"You haven't even started standing on your own feet and your tongue has already grown wings, is it? Don't you dare talk back to me... I am your father!"

His mother, standing in the corner that doubled up as a kitchen, was just a mannequin, with her hand held out and stress on her face. As if to calm them both, but failing miserably, without enough courage to go against them. She respected my dad enough to not poke him and yet she was his mother, to just watch her son being scolded like that. The fear of every teenage mother 'do not scold so much, young blood tends to do stupid things in anger', ringing in her ears and mind.

"Then why are you against my happiness?"

"I am against your happiness? I am the only one here who's worried about it! You are on the path of self-destruction with this, instead of studying and becoming something in life!"

The neighbours, now aware of the fight, were piling up outside their open door and window facing the corridor. Such small housing complexes tended to live with an open-door lifestyle. The people, too poor to have anything worth stealing kept their doors open for anyone or everyone to come in and feel welcome. They may have been poor by financial standards, but rich in their hearts.

"I am talented, daddy. Everywhere I play people appreciate me! I have a future in this!"

"Future? Do you know how many people in this country run with that dream? Do you think you will become a huge, famous and rich star? Son ... be honest. look around you! Do you think you are that lucky? Would you really be born in this house if you were meant to be such a big star amongst the hundreds of thousands with the same dream?"

"But dad..."

"I can tell you this son. I was a hard worker myself, but this is as far as I could go! This is the best life and luck I could give you... I had a million dreams myself and see where I am. At least by finishing your studies, you have a real shot at a life better than this! Don't throw it away... I am begging you please!"

"No dad... don't"

However much he loved his dreams, he could not bear the sight of seeing his father this sad and helpless. His dreams, his anger and his plans would have to wait, for now, his father was standing in front of him, his hands folded and desperate. At this moment, he could push not push his father anymore.

"Ok. Dad... I'll leave my dreams aside... don't. ... don't break down like this"

Lifting his guitar, one last look of the memories and times with it, he finally piled it up on top of the old, scratched wooden cupboard and went to the tiny bathroom to wash his face and to finally give in and cry. Something, he could not have done with so many eyes on him all through the scene.

That night, lying on his mattress on the ground, he could not sleep at all. His dreams and his parent's dreams were at a clash and his life was caught in the middle as collateral damage. The idea of a desk job did not appeal to him and the possibility of failure looming over his parents head an inherent fear. His dreams, of course, had the risk of failure, whereas, the path his parents wanted him to take was a safe bet. It was his dreams versus his parents'.

Tossing and turning in his bed, he could not sleep. Too many thoughts in his head; the cheer from the crowd, his dad's scolding, his happy face on stage, the neighbours peering. Like a fast switching presentation in his head. No matter what he tried, he could not turn it off. Eventually, around midnight, he finally gave up and sat down on the sofa.

He could not live like this, with dreams on one side and expectations on another. He had faith in his skills. He was confident about making a name in the industry. Even managed to write up and compose songs on his own. Most musicians his age were still struggling with perfecting, while he had moved on to innovate. He would die a slow death in the future planned by his parents. The only thing now left to do... he had to leave.

Possibly stay with friends for a while, he knew they would help him, in his initial struggle and then find something of his own when he did make a name. His parents would have forgiven him and even accepted their mistake in not trusting his skills and judgement. He got a bag ready and pulled down his guitar, careful to not make a single noise.

He opened the door to his parent's room, had to see them one last time before he left and started his own journey, his own story. Lying on that small bed, were his parents, with marks of a hard life showing on their hands and legs. With a small overhead fan that was too old to make that hot bedroom anything close to cool.

His mother, he loved her a lot. She had always supported him, understood his pains and did everything she could to protect him from his father's scolding from time to time. Her face all wrinkled, aged way before her years, possibly from the tough life she had seen along with his father. She had worked as a maid when he was a kid and then finally managed to get a job at the pen factory, working double-shift at times to support his studies. She had never seen life beyond her work and family and yet never complained.

Next to her was the man that he shared a love-hate relationship with. His father. The childhood memories of going to the market on his shoulders or carrying him to the doctor's every time he fell sick. Buying new clothes for everyone in the house except himself at festivals. His father's sacrifices in life, for the family, were more than he could even imagine. Hands corroded and hard from the tough work at the plant, forever fatigued and yet he had managed to live his dreams through his son, his only son, who was planning to now run away. The same man, who was just a few hours back, begging his son to make the right decision.

Tears were dripping down the young boy's face as he saw his parents. They had nothing in this world and yet they had everything they wanted. Their family. Even after seeing so many hardships they were able to sleep tonight, holding each other's hands, knowing that even if the world was against them, they still had each other.

He quietly closed the door, kept the bag in the cupboard, his guitar back on top of the cupboard and lied down on the mattress. They had sacrificed everything for him, with a dream of a good life for him. He couldn't possibly abandon them. He was feeling guilty to the core to have thought about running away, hurting them possibly even killing them with the pain.

That was the moment, he decided... to finally give up his desire, his dreams to live for his parent's dreams.....

20 years later...

"Sir, they are waiting for you in the meeting room"... his assistant reminded him from a half-open door.

"I'll be there in a minute"... he replied, shutting down his laptop and getting up from his chair.

He smiled when he glimpsed on the photo frame on his desk. His parents with him, happy and proud, at his convocation ceremony. Studying hard through the years, he had made it through his engineering with good grades, landing him a job. A desk job, something he never wanted, but one that paid to help him fix up a decent life for his family. Music forever playing in his head, he had worked really hard to through those years to get where he was today.

Lying next to that photo frame, was his name tag that read...

Vice President
(Talent Discovery)
Infinity Music Records Ltd.

He may have given up on his dreams, but, his desire had found a way back to him....

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