"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




Allwin was a child prodigy, adept at general knowledge and excelling at mathematical calculations far beyond his age. Nearly every weeknight, and customarily on the weekends, he would regale the slum dwellers - his only friends - with weird facts from the world, almost enacting a street version of Ripley's Believe it or not. The elders would often remark how Allwin had it in him to go places, yet none tried to help him. In the city, the poor never tasted success, and Allwin, an orphan, was too wretched to have any hope.

But Allwin never stopped dreaming. He often saw his mother in his dreams. She would dress him up in a fine uniform and kiss him good-bye to school.
 
Then, one day, Allwin decided he had to fulfil the dream of his mother. He packed a satchel and left the slum. He walked towards the city with bare hands and an empty pocket. The elders watched him mutely, until he was gone out of sight. Then they got back to their reverie.
 
Allwin landed in a colony, and in no time was working at the tea-shop. He washed glasses and served tea to the regular customers. Occasionally, he would regale the elder customers with his brilliant stories, and earned an extra tip through their adoration. In the night, under the unfailing street-lamp, he would read. And go on reading, till his eyelids shut shop. And then, just before dozing off, he would think of the university campus across the seas, reiterating to himself that he would enter its gates in the near future.
 
This went on for a couple of years until Allwin grew a moustache and the colony had grown fond of him. One day Allwin suddenly disappeared. He had contracted lung infection and, being a seasoned orphan, admitted himself to the hospital without informing anyone or seeking help. Allwin had grown used to taking care of himself, he was used to living with himself and his dreams. The dreams and the future that solely belonged to him, and, it seemed, were destined for him.
 
But in a colony nobody gets left alone. The denizens searched for him and got hold of him. The elders pooled in money for his treatment and shifted him to a bigger hospital. Mrs. Rao brought him food everyday, while Mrs. Patil changed his clothes. Mr. Murthy and Mr. Kumar took turns to stay the entire night beside his bed. The rest of the elders visited him on a daily basis. Up until Allwin recovered, he wasn't left alone even for a day. Allwin had never received so much love and he felt he wasn't an orphan anymore. Allwin's eyes welled up with tears when he returned back to the tea-shop and the whole colony was there to greet him with smiles and hugs.
 
That day Allwin made an oath. He would never dream of a university or a future that took him away from his family - the colony. The love meant the world to him, and, alas, what use was the pursuit of dreams if it meant going away from family? He felt the love of family and the emotions it tugged at his heart were more real then some far-fetched destiny that beckoned like a distant dream. He started to believe that his talents, whatever they were, was meant merely to entertain his family and not to engage in some pursuit down some dark alley of the future.
 
Allwin made up his mind to stay with the tea-shop. He humoured himself saying that, may be, owning a tea-shop was his real destiny. From that day on, Allwin stopped reading by the street-lamp. He slept a sound peaceful dreamless sleep all night.
 
In realizing love, Allwin became human. He felt he had found his roots and finally started living. Indeed he had, by giving up on destiny, Allwin had become one with the slum-dwellers, his original family.
 
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