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The Gift of Buddha
Margaret, Age 13, Barrie, ON

Abhijit woke with a start as the orphanage master brutally rang the bell for waking hour. He yawned and grudgingly tossed the meagre blanket off his body, like dozens of other boys his age, heading down for the first event of the day, the twenty-minute free time.

He ran out of the old building, past the filthy whitewashed walls, where grime slithered out of the deep cracks and rust shadowed every blank splash of ivory. He emerged out onto the street, where the pungent aroma of naan bread and curry fogged the air, and fumes veiled the thick clouds in grey gauze. He shuffled the dirt around between his feet, and kicked stray rocks that scuttled down the gentle slope of the market. Two older boys were deep in their own violent conflict by one of the tents. Barbarity had plagued their years in adolescence, which the orphanage was trying to prevent. Abhijit stared at them for a minute, silently hoping the fight would soon conclude. Suddenly, one of the boys was roused from their argument, noticing the stare on his back. He stopped punching the other in the stomach and yelled, “What are you looking at?”

“He disrupted our fight! Get him!” the other boy screamed, which commenced their pursuit.

“You can’t catch me!” shrieked a now grinning Abhijit. He turned and sprinted, his thighs and calves tingling from the pure velocity of it all, soaking up the invigorating breeze that tumbled in from the dense forest that spurred from a point on the bleak horizon. Somehow he had outrun the boys. This he discovered when he finally looked behind him. He sat down, panting, and noticed the sun was rising.

The peachy clouds nudged the brim of the heavens, and the heavens gradually heaved ribbons of flamboyant mauve, yellow and orange to douse the dimmed grey of the sky. Dusty rays of gold cloaked the slumbering grass hills below, and thawed out their misty tips. Abhijit sighed deeply, an intake of pure decadence.

The other boys at the orphanage missed out on this, these beautiful moments, because they had no audacity, no hope for contradiction against the tight, compressed features of their master, Balin. But he knew that this would not last forever. So he closed his eyes and wished, wished with all of his might for undisturbed bliss.

Abhijit opened his eyes, only to discover that he was sitting cross legged on a cloud, a peachy, soft cloud. He was shocked at first. “And your wish is granted,” said a deep, booming voice.

“But how…?” Abhijit trailed off, looking around him for the source of the voice, extremely puzzled.

“I am the Buddha of the sun, the great Aditya himself. You are an honorable, courageous boy, and therefore, I have decided to show you the real serenity of the skies.” He gestured around the sky with a sweeping motion. “Stand up, you will find that you are buoyant.” The man, with his great brown outward belly and large feet, was resting with his legs crossed. His eyes were a genuine and sparkling brown, his mouth curved in an upward smile; his earlobes drooped under the rather large and colourful green embellishment that was fastened there.

Abhijit did so, with great pleasure. He sprung forward to jump onto the next cloud, through the peachy kingdom of sky, and found that he was indeed, quite buoyant. He laughed and grinned with glee, repeating this several times, over and over, as the Buddha sat on a nearby cloud and emitted a deep belly laugh. Abhijit finally sat down on the cloud in front of Aditya, struggling to control his giggles.

“I give you the gift of strength and happiness, Abhijit, since you have shown me the most enjoyable time in a long time. Sometimes, sadness can be a formidable opponent, and my gifts will help you destroy it. Close your eyes my boy and you will return to the world as you know it,” finished Aditya.

Abhijit closed his eyes, and a few minutes later, opened them again. A smile creased his face.
……………………
Now, Abhijit had acquired the courage to get permanent happiness. He took the other boys early in the morning, before Balin woke up to see the sunrise, to listen to his brilliant stories. They all laughed together and listened intently, for this was the most fun they had ever encountered.

One day, Abhijit looked up at the sunrise and thought how he was living up to his name, victorious. “Thank you great Buddha of the sun,” he whispered.

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