Little Brother [Short-Story] by Issa Dioume

“Run! Zeenat! RUN!” He screamed.
And so, I ran.
But Grazta, the void took you. And, I miss you. Thank you Grazta. Thanks to you, I
escaped…

….my family and their suffocating pressures.
It had become a daily routine for father to bring me down. Every time I opened my lips to
reveal a dream or goal I wanted to set for myself, he would simply look at me, smile and tell
me how ridiculous or absurd the idea was: “You will never [insert dream]”; “You are not
[insert quality] enough!”.

Thank you father, for killing the dreams of my childhood. You pierced my dreams like cupid
ruthlessly pierces hearts with arrows. I know why you did it, even though you may deny it.
Your parents did not believe in you when you told them you wanted to become a lawyer. The
words you speak are only the result of your parents’ teachings.
Knowing why does not mean it can no longer hurt you. Each word cut through me like a
knife cutting through butter. My dreams melted away. I was left a nothing with no dream, and
so I did nothing.

“Go outside! clean your room! Why don’t you act like other kids?” Father would scream. I
looked at him, and, wanted to tell him: you’re the reason. No use, just another fight. I had
already told him several times, he doesn’t care, nor does he want to care. He knows it would
mean me being right about him, something he would not tolerate.

One day, I surprised my six-year- old brother sobbing in his room and asked what had
happened. “Father said I could never become a lawyer. He said, I wasn’t smart enough!”. My
heart boiled with rage, I immediately went to confront him. To ask him: why?

He calmly explained, it was a necessity. “So, he doesn’t dream too big later on. Trust me, it
will help him in life. Look at how it helped you”, he said. I wanted to puke. It suddenly hit
me. A six-year- old, was already destined to be a nothing, because he was his son. That’s how
he saw it. Age did not matter, it wasn’t that we were too old to learn new things. Why
couldn’t my brother become what he wants? “Look at how old he is, I said. Everything is
possible at this age!” For me… it is too late, I thought. He stole my future away through
selfishness, he had to hand us his legacy of being nothing or he would not be satisfied with
our education.
I hate him. I shouldn’t. He does not beat me, does not abuse me, does not scream, but I hate
him all the same. His words are water to the flames of my dreams; extinguished.
Time passed, around four years, I believe. I am eighteen, now. Still nothing. Little brother’s
dreams have died, now. He no longer goes outside. He stays inside, doing nothing. Father
says: “Go outside! clean your room! Why don’t you act like other kids?” and little brother
smiles thinking: you’re the reason. He spends his days staring into the void and playing video
games. Not a normal life of a ten-year- old. He reads sometimes. Fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.
Worlds which take him away from his own. Worlds where he can be anything.

Today, father died, I think.
Mother cries. Perhaps from joy? Me and my brother say nothing, do nothing, staring
into the void. “Why don’t they act like others?” Onlookers say, observing us. “How cold can
one be?”. We look at each other, smile and, point to father’s listless body.
Back at home.
A month later, I have started trying to do things. I want to paint. I realised I could do
what I wanted now. I no longer care to fail. My life is mine once more. I wish to go to an art

school. “You know, it’s quite hard to go to an art school…” says mother’s new boyfriend. He
reminds me of father. It scared me. And so, I made a choice. That same evening, I packed my
things in a suitcase. Tomorrow morning, I will leave this place, forever, I thought. Little
brother, saw me pack. He stood there, so anchored in darkness, I did not notice him.

This morning, I finally left, at the first light of dawn. Little brother was awake. He saw
me, walking towards the door and, called out to me from the darkness. As I approached him
to respond, I saw tears rolling down his cheeks, cascading to his shoulders. He looked at me
and screamed, it felt like I hadn’t heard his voice in a long while, “Run Zeenat! RUUUN!”

… And run I did.
Promising to come back to take him with me once I had found a place.
Goodbye little brother. Goodbye Grazta.

47 thoughts on “Little Brother [Short-Story] by Issa Dioume

Add yours

  1. The story didn’t make much sense to me. How come you, at the age of 14, can’t pursue your dreams?
    And what caused your brother to ask you to run? And there seems to be a lot of grammatical errors. Also, I didn’t like the way the sentences were structured.

    Please take the feedback with a pinch of salt. You asked for it. Good luck on your future writing endeavors.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Aw this is such a touching story. I liked the way you wrote it in a detailed manner that is full packed with emotions! Well done, Issa. I wish to read more from this story, curious whether he gets to fulfill his dream or not and what’s going to happen to his little brother.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s simply the cause of peer pressure. The thematic is escape. We have a father who feels unaccomplished and sees himself as a failure . He sees his children as an extension of himself so he puts onto his children the faults he sees in himself however he isn’t wholly aware of it and/or doesn’t wish to admit it to himself. It’s not the a real story so my brother did not really ask me to run. This POV narration is just that, narration. The voice is in first person but it gives the account of the life of his little brother. The reason for that is simply because the narrator has already gone through the whole experience himself growing as he explains. The errors might be syntax but one thing to note is that writers can break the syntactic rules when writing a book to create a certain style or tonality. The grammar of a novel doesn’t have to be perfect in fact it is considered better to break the rules. For example beginning a sentence with And as you did is considered ungrammatical and bad in syntax. The hero felt at 14 that he could not make his dreams come true due to the rhetoric he had heard regurgitated from his fathers’ mouth throughout his life. Thank you for the feedback. Indeed, I asked for constructive criticism. This is not constructive. Perhaps it is not the kind of work that soothes your appetite for writing. However, all the same I will stand true to my words. Thank you for passing by! As a fellow writer I wish you all the best, too bad you didn’t understand what was occurring here.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I do not take any feedback badly. I need it, thank you. I am French so my English is not the most well edged blade in my arsenal. Your words will help me grow. Although none of was truly constructive. I will try to make my writing clearer and simpler to understand. Thank you for being honest.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi bilingual writer,
    Read this first post and I find it already amazing. It’s filled with emotions and packed with a sense of adventure that I much appreciate. Very touching story. You’re doing just great. I have also started writing from last year in English and French.
    Wish you all the best,
    Lyram Dinsmore(my pen name)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you very much. Keep following Young Writers and Poets. I wish you all the best of luck for further posts. Will definitely read them.
    Keep it up,
    Lyram Dinsmore

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Oh, I will be happy to see that you do. Likewise I will make sure to keep following Young Writers and Poets. Perhaps, one of my posts may interest you. I am, after all, a young wordsmith/ et un jeune poète contemporain.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Merci beaucoup. Je suis justement en train de lire un poème que tu as écrit. Je suis vraiment obnubilé par son sens. Je le trouve très profond presque impossible à déchiffrer un comme je lis l’un des poème de Keats.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. You’ve written your story with great insight into the damage that parents can do by constantly denigrating their children’s efforts and aspirations.
    It’s an emotionally compelling story, that really drew me in. You convey the narrator’s anger and bitterness very well – and then you give us hope that after the father has died, the elder sibling may escape. Your conclusion is sad – Grazta is dead (suicide in the back story, I suspect) – and yet it is also positive. Zeenat has become a strong woman, a survivor.
    I wouldn’t have guessed from the writing that English is your second language.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “I wouldn’t have guessed from the writing that English is your second language.” Perhaps the best compliment a writer who was not born in an English speaking country can receive. Thank you very much for the analysis of the themes and ideas in my short. I am glad to see you enjoyed it. It means a lot to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Have a good day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dear Issa,

    This story packs a punch. Amazing, since my guess is that English isn’t our first language? I envy you that. I love languages and do fairly well in Spanish and am working on Hebrew. (Americans are traditionally monolingual which I’ve always hated.) At any rate…
    Your story can be tightened to pack an even greater punch. I learned this, particularly with my first novel PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. The biggest mistake I made as a new writer was repeating something many times. One character would say something and another would say the same thing and still another. I hope that makes sense.

    The best way I can make my point is to take one of your paragraphs and pare it down. This does not mean I’m some kind of authority or that you should just rewrite.

    Thank you father for killing the dreams of my childhood. You pierced my dreams like cupid pierces hearts with his arrows. I know why you did it, even though you may deny it. Your parents did not believe in you when you told them you wanted to become a lawyer. The words you speak are only the result of your parents’ teachings.

    Suggested changes:
    Thank you, Father for killing my childhood dreams. You pierced them like Cupid with his arrows. I understand why, although you might deny it. Your parents dashed your own hopes when they did not support your decision to become a lawyer.

    I don’t think you even need that last sentence. The content of the rest of the paragraph tells me, the reader, that Father had cold water splashed on his dreams so he thinks he’s doing his son a favor by holding him back.

    As I said, these are only suggestions….and perhaps not the best. This story has a lot of merit. Keep up the good work.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thank you for the suggestions! I will take them to heart and see what I can do to improve upon this piece further. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my writing and analyse it in such minute details. I really appreciate it! It means a lot to receive help from someone who has already written her first book. Since I am still at the threshold of my journey as a writer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This story is touching that’s for sure. I have just started reading my short stories out loud. This helps me find broken sentences, help with punctuation, and even emotions.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Just stumbled onto your writing and I gotta say that it’s very nice. I was able to relate to this piece. Though I do love my father quite a bit, for the longest time it was hard to for me to open up to him about my writing, and I hated talking to him about it. He would never physically abuse me but would verbally. A small phrase here, hurtful comment there. It got me to the point where he would ask what I was writing about and I would reply ‘nothing’ and stop writing for a moment. I honestly think now that he didn’t even realize what he was doing until much later. We’re all good now, but this piece brought up some of those emotions and a smile on my face thinking about not only how much I’ve grown, but also how much he has as well. Thank you for that.

    On another note, I work at a writing center for my college and help a lot of ESL (English as a Second Language) learners and I got to say that this was very well written. Keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you very much for reading my post. I am glad to hear it resonated with you and have you echoes from your own life. I will keep it up and try to improve as best I can. One step at a time. 🙂

    Like

  16. I am so moved by your writing! I can relate to having my artist dreams rejected by my family, it kept me from being my true self. You’ve described this so well. I love the loving relationship that the brothers have, it is so beautiful!❤

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Nicely done. This is a powerful piece. I noticed that a few others have offered advice — I disagreed with most of the suggestions — write from the heart and the other stuff will take care of itself as you go along. Well done. Terry.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Grammar doesn’t matter when someone wants to express their heart..first time in blogging meeting a person like you..try to have some empathy towards someone rather pointing something useless…

    Liked by 2 people

  19. This reminds me how I struggled with my dad for pursuing my study and when came back to give life to my siblings and they all are grown and decided to continue their own path where dad controlled and I couldn;t able help them..but I feel, no father should control a child to dream less..

    Liked by 1 person

  20. @alienpoems There is always a first time for everything. 🙂 I wrote what came to my mind after reading the story. I meant no offense. Even I am making mistakes and learning in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Your story reminds me of a man I met at college who had wanted to study music and be a musician. According to his sister, their parents told him they weren’t going to pay for him to major in “waiting tables” (insinuating that musicians and those who major in music can only secure jobs as waiters). He majored in engineering instead but he was bitter. When I invited him to my friend’s recital, he made the comment “Oh, she’s majoring in waiting tables.”
    I’m hopeful that since Zeenat escaped her father’s influences, she won’t grow to be bitter.
    I didn’t think your grammar distracted from the story. However, the way the lines of the story are broken up, makes it hard to read smoothly. Or it could be how the story appears in my web browser. Who knows!
    The grammar will improve with practice. Consider reading out loud or having a beta reader look over your piece prior to posting.

    Liked by 1 person

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