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Neighboring Spheres of The Banks

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A small boy's wondrous choices in crossing and choosing a river environment. The Story was presented on Asian English Olympic 2017 and placed 9th.

Adventure / Fantasy
Stanley Winata
Age Rating:

Neighboring Spheres of The Banks

It was gloaming at the station; the sun was setting in the west alongside the buoyant clouds; the birds were chirping, returning its flocks to their nest. A roaring horn sound blew heeding the whole station of the arriving train. It was a long, old, silver train carrying the wagons loaded by passengers.

The train doors shut and opened, the wagons’ crowded loads got off, spread and swarmed the station. A small boy slipped between the swarm, trying to find his way out. The small boy wore a red cap, dressed in a checkered shirt compounded with his short, blue trousers. Equipped with a brown backpack, the boy strolled slowly but surely heading out to the gate of the station.

Once he passed through the gate, he beheld a long, crooked river extending afar. The river spanned miles away and flowed with smooth current. Dark-green mosses blanketed every river-stone scattered around and small plants grew alongside the river bank.

An old man paddling a wooden canoe came by; the man wore a round hat and dressed with torned, grey shirt. He tilted his head up, facing the small boy and grinned. The grinning, old man’s face was filled with wrinkles and his grin showed a set of yellow, porous teeth.

“Wanna cross the river kid?” The old man asked, uttering in a hoarse and loud voice out of his throat.

The boy nodded, stepped his little feet down the river bank, and sat down on the lower ends of the canoe facing the old man who was still smiling at him. The boy smiled back, put off his backpack, and leaned his body at the canoe’s edge. Thus, the old man started to paddle, rowing his boat to the other end of the river.

The small boy discerned the river; the water was clear enough to see its muddy bottom; tadpoles were swimming in all directions; some small fish could be seen hiding behind the river-plants. White, embedded pipes were nonetheless also on the riverside pouring oils, soapsuds and wastes diffusing the water.

A pair of green dragonflies perched on the canoe’s edge. The boy tried to catch the insects, but he missed, then the dragonflies flew crisscrossing, roaming around the river edge.

The boy soon looked tediously at the dragonflies as he beheld a dirty and vile pile of trash. The grubby trash heap was piling in disarray on the riverside; dark-green flies were swarming; rotten and junked food secreted a penetrating smell; cans, plastics, and bottles altered into soiled mouse nests. Nevertheless, the big garbage can was left vacant on its side, aparted without anyone ever noticing.

A big garbage truck appeared and parked at the trash heap side. Men wearing a cap, orange shirts and grey boots descended from the vehicle, perceived the garbage pile and sighed regretting the empty garbage can beside it.

The boy’s tiny, round eyes blinked; the view rendered his affection. He gazed and wondered if there was still any human’s awareness of the river bank.

By that time, the wooden canoe crossed beneath a green and strong bamboo bridge. The bridge was tied together on its upper and lower ends, bonded tightly and made not even a gap between the bamboos.

The small boy had been amused by the bridge when a woman carrying a finely woven tray filled with local cookies on her head arrived at one of the bridge’s end. She stepped on the bridge carefully, balancing the round tray on her head. She was drenched in sweat omening a day of hard work peddling the cookies. She crossed the bamboo bridge gaudily in her white blouse, headed towards vile and dense dwellings. She passed through a row of houses, halted in front of a house, knocked on the door hoping the family in the house would buy her local hawkings. The door opened and a woman carrying a baby came out, she smiled at the hawkers then shook her head refusing the genuine offer. The rejected hawkers smiled back, turned her fine body around, sauntered and faded into a narrow street in the dense dwellings.

The small boy felt sorry for her, engaging his pity toward the slump-like dwellings. The houses in the dense dwellings were built slovenly; the roofs were made of plastics with some little hollows on it, and when it had rained, the raindrop would drip leaking the houses. Walls were built of old, slight, and flimsy plywood, that when a strong wind blew, it swayed imperiling to collapse. There wasn’t any electricity around, and when the night came, people would ignite the candles to illuminate the whole house. Moreover, the streets were narrow, dim and covered with mud, dirt and dust.

The slump-like dwellings was filled with poor inhabitants; a rag could be seen slumbering under a big, eld, oak tree, wearing tattered, old clothes, bare footed snoring deeply in his sleep. A child was eating with his bare hands finishing a plate of rice without any side dishes, and a gray-haired beggar was sitting in front of a house appealing and begging for alms.

On the other hand, the inhabitants seemed to live in content, peace and harmony; a mother was singing a melodic lullaby for her slumbering baby, several men were gathering on the same seat enjoying their cups of pleasurable coffee, some passionate youngsters were playing football, and the children were running and joyfully chasing each other on the road.

The small boy’s heart throbbed with excitement while looking at the delightful children. The boy desired to join, to play, and to laugh with them and spent the night having a good, pleasing time with the family. The boy pondered and gazed at the dwellings again. He perceived the dense houses were all dull, old and broken. The dirt covered road, nevertheless, started to disperse his thrill to stay.

The small boy was thinking over and over again, his desirous heart was thrilled to stay, but somehow the boy dazed and wondered how he could withstand the filthy and displeasing surroundings.

The boy looked away and glanced at the old man; he uttered a childish sound and asked curiously, “Shall I cease here and play with them?” then pointed at the dwelling.

The old man chuckled, shook his head and replied with a hoarse sound, “No boy, you’ve just only seen a little of the river sphere. There was still another magnificent view here.”

“Hmm…” The small boy didn’t demand any question again, he merely sat awaiting another splendid view of the river bank.

Alongside the flowing river, the canoe came crossing a distinct river bank. There were neither plants nor mosses growing on this edge, but it altered into fences, embedded alongside the banks.

The boy beheld a contrasting dissimilar sphere on this scene of the riverbank. Cars and motorcycles were passing by on broad, asphalt covered roads beside the fences. Pavements were built alongside the wide road. The street had no dust, mud and dirt, even leaves weren’t scattered there. High, black, firmly embedded electricity poles connecting wires by wires were also towering along the broad roads.

The small boy roamed his pair of little eyes around, and he saw some amusing, magnificent housing beside the roads. The houses were surrounded by neat, wooden fences; the gardens were blanketed by virescent grass and decorated with many colourful flowers; the walls were made of a fine selection of woods and its luxurious design added a majestic value to it.

The small boy was enjoying the view when suddenly, a woman in her thirties came out from one of the houses. She was walking gaudily, dressed in a white, finely sewed gown. She put her black glasses on, ambling towards a black and luxurious car parked in front of her house. Behind her, there were two small boys, walking step by step, following the woman to her car. The boys were slightly different than the children before; they were wearing blue shirts, wrapped with a grey cardigan, their trousers were long and black sewed of a good fabric, and their shoes were brown made of leather. The three of them soon got in the cars, heated the vehicle up, and left the housing.

The boy observed the housing time after time, his little, round eyes perceived something was missing from this part of the river. Even though the flowers, the gardens and the houses were all stellar, perfectly decorated and built, the residents were rarely outside enjoying the beauty of the housing. There were no men walking on the road, the mothers were busy sitting and playing with their phones in the garden while their baby was left on the carriages, and there wasn’t any child playing outside having fun enjoying their energetic youth.

The boy stood, he was fond of the clean, fresh and beautiful surroundings, wishing to run all over the housing, then went home having a sweet-dream in a castle-like house. However, the small boy’s childish wish was discontinued after he looked at the mute residents, there was no sound of chit-chatting people and everyone seemed careless for others.

The small boy’s mind told him to go and enjoy the comfortable and stellar life there, but his heart was longing for a sociable, loving, and caring family. He thought of it again and again, and in his wavering hesitation, the boy asked again “How about here? It’s nice and fancy, shall I stop and stay here?”

The old man smiled, shook his head again, and replied with a small, gruff voice, “Not yet kid, we haven’t reached the end yet.”

“Ok…” the boy agreed, then he sat again, patiently waiting while looking at the gloaming, shading sky.

As the time went by, the night had arrived; frogs were croaking; the zephyr wind blew whistling the trees; the dark clouds were moving on the sky; the harvest moon was floating surrounded between the sparkling sky, and the moonlight reflected stunningly on the river’s surface.

The small boy was staring at the stunning night sky, but a tall, lofty building soon blocked his view; The building soared up high, coated in glass, and the radiance lights were shining from each floor enhancing the building’s magnificent view. There were other buildings soaring with their own majestic heights, in between them were roads extending afar embedded with shining lampposts. A white, long car passed by, halted and a couple of lovers descended; the man was tall and handsome, wearing striped shirt compounded with his black suit, meanwhile the woman had a fine body-shape figure, dressed in a sparkling gown and red high-heels. The lovers were walking side by side, entering a bright and huge theatre.

The small boy gazed at the view, but somehow it didn’t interest him anymore. He had seen plenty of magnificent scenery before, and he was still wondering which part of the river was the best for him.

The boy turned his head, beheld the scenery behind. It was bright and clear at the housing, but there was silence there, and no one came outside to gather and enjoy the night. Meanwhile, it was dark and gloomy at the dwellings, only the dim light of the candles shone, but the chit-chat sound of the inhabitants could be heard outside, gathering and appreciating the night sky.

The small boy’s heart pounded, there were parts of his young, energetic soul desiring to play joyfully with the children at his age, and also the warmth-affection of the dwelling tempted him to stay and live with them. However, his mind tried to prevent the boy from staying at the dwelling. He was considering to stay and to live in the clean and stellar housing, therefore he could live in a green, healthy and comfortable environment. Nonetheless, if he stayed at the housing, he precisely couldn’t play with the juvenile and grew within a care-loving family. The small boy pondered over and over again, reflecting both distinctive and contrasting sides.

“We’ve arrived! Have you chosen your side?” The old man grinned, showing a large, pleasant smile.

“Yup!” The boy nodded, and left the wooden boat. He wondered and gazed at his surroundings, and there were fireflies flying freely all around him, unthinking about the peculiar environment. The small boy caught one of them, then brought it along, heading to the bank where he had to make his choice.

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