How Eric Became A Superhero

EDITOR: Smriti Sharma

Eric grew up believing in miracles. In fairies, wizards, angels, and
ninjas. For him, superheroes existed in real somewhere, and he knew
one day he would meet them all. He lived in his own world, where all
the bad guys were whacked by the good ones, where problems were solved with superpowers, where superheroes were worshipped, envied and even hated. Eric turned fifteen in January but he still didn’t stop believing that it was Santa who brought him gifts, he didn’t stop
believing that spider bites could make anyone Spiderman, he didn’t
stop believing that every toilet leads to a chamber of secrets. And he didn’t stop being a worry to his parents.

“Why don’t you go out and play baseball with your friends” his mother would say.
“They don’t want to befriend me, they think I am strange” he would reply.
“You aren’t strange” his mother would say, although not being completely sure about it.
“It’s okay mom, I don’t want to be with them, superheroes stay alone and they work alone.”

He was a menace for the teachers. One day on being asked what would
you do if the world ended today, he replied, “Simple, I will save it.”

Indeed simple and selfless. How many of us would dare to save the world instead of enjoying the last few hours with loved ones or doing something we love.

“I don’t know Mr. Ian your son has been causing us trouble since he
joined. This is not what people of his age do. I mean look around,
they are thinking of baseball, making friends choosing a career path,
going out, making girlfriends. Your son isn’t interested in any of
these activities instead he is busy thinking what would he do if he
gets invisible. The other day he wrote Batman instead of his own name
in the library register.” A teacher complained to Eric’s father.

“I never want to be invisible,” Eric shouted from behind, “that’s
the lamest superpower. I will face my enemy instead of hiding from
him.”
“Shut up. Eric ” his father said embarrassingly.

“What’s wrong with you?” his daddy asked him on their way to home.
“Nothing dad, she was exaggerating.”
“She wasn’t. Everyone has the same complaint. Mr. Parker was saying
that the other day, you told him that you are a time traveler,” his
dad said while his eyes still fixed on the road.
“What if I really am, who knows?”
“We know, you aren’t. Why don’t you live like normal kids and do the
normal stuff?”
“Because I don’t want to live in mediocrity and selfishness believing
I don’t have any superpowers while I have one.” Eric was losing his
patience.

And so was his dad.

“Oh! God bless this boy, that’s all fiction, it doesn’t exist in
reality. It’s all imaginary, fairy dust.”
“So is God.”
“God is real.”
“We have made God real. And if he is real why not time travelers? Why
not wizards? Why not superheroes? Why not hidden schools? Dad, the
truth is that we believe in God, and we expect him to do wonders because we have faith in him, we think he is the superhero, and we want to be like him, we love his persona, his powers, and his principles,” the boy said.

His father knew he can’t debate any longer. His son’s belief was far
stronger than any rational idea. But he still tried.

“But then, we don’t follow his principles every time. At times we have to vary and form our own principles and act according to the circumstances,” his dad said looking at him straight in his eyes.
“I am sorry, dad, you aren’t a good follower then.”

Involved in their discussion, they reached home in a jiffy.

“What happened?” his mother asked looking at the glum look on his
father’s face.
“He wrote Batman in the library register instead of his own name,” his
dad said, “you surely aren’t Batman.”
“Anyone can be a Batman, dad.  And that includes Rosy as well.”

Rosy their housemaid stood stunned, finding herself in the discussion
she knew nothing about.

“But sweety haven’t we given you a beautiful name?” his mother said.
“You can also call me Batman, I won’t mind.”
“NO! ” his father yelled, “We surely can’t call you that in public”.
“You can call me Bruce Wayne, in public.”

His parents gave up expecting a miracle although they never believed
in miracles.

But his parents were not the only one who wanted to shake his belief.
There was the ‘society’ and its staunch conformity.

Eric had a crush on his classmate for a long time, but this hulk admirer couldn’t gather enough courage to talk to the girl. The truth was he was considered childish in the school and no girl wanted to date him. ‘Tiny Lilliputian’ is what he was called.

He got into a mess one day, trying to ask the girl out in front of
Rudy, the big bad wolf of the school.
“Oi Lilliputian, go watch Spiderman,” Rudy said coming in between Eric
and the girl.
“I am talking to Amy, you should go do some work and stop…”

Before he could finish he was hit in the face by Rudy. Right on the nose. He squatted on the ground holding his nose. It was bleeding. Eric was skinny for his age. He got up in a rage and pushed Rudy on the chest which bagged him another punch, in the eyes this time. He fell on the ground, too bruised to get up. After getting tired of laughing at him and calling him ‘a loser’, Rudy and his friends left. So did the girl. And Eric was left lying there, in the rain, in pain. He got up by himself and found a tiny bump near his eyes which he knew would grow bigger.

He started walking home trying to console himself that what happened
to him happens with every superhero.

Which superhero doesn’t get beaten by bullies? The most they can do is
hit someone in their eye, they will never find their superpower.

Eric grew sadder thinking about the girl. He knew he would have been a
better friend than Rudy.

But superheroes never get girls. Batman, Clark, none had any girlfriends.

What was more painful than a swollen eye was the fact that society was not ready to accept him. He had got no friends and his parents weren’t talking to him, girls laughed at him. For the first time, Eric felt alone. He felt powerless.

What if whatever they were saying was correct and there were no
superheroes and no superpowers, and no wizards and no miracles.

His energy vanished. He couldn’t imagine a world without superpowers and a world without miracles. He didn’t approve living in mediocrity and selfishness. Tears trickled down his cheek along with rainwater.

“If this is what living on Earth is like, then I should kill myself and go to heaven. Maybe there I would find superheroes,” Eric thought to himself and decided he would die. Instead of going home he started walking towards the highway.

He thought that he would jump before a big truck.

He was standing on the highway and found a truck drawing near. When it was some 50 meters away, he got in that lane and stood firmly on the truck’s way. He knew it was impossible to stop the truck. The truck driver honked in vain. Eric didn’t think much before deciding to die, maybe his mind had gone numb after the punch he received. The truck was barely 10 meters away, last few seconds of his life, he closed his eyes tightly and waited to get hit and die. But suddenly he felt someone has picked him up. It happened so briskly though, that he couldn’t figure out what happened. When he opened his eyes he found himself alive standing in a different lane and the truck had gone without hitting him. He looked around, and there was no one. How is this possible. He was sure that he was standing before the truck. Eric couldn’t believe what he experienced and concluded that he must have been standing in the wrong lane, owing to his swollen eye.

He tried again; this time more carefully, jumped before the truck at the exact moment. He felt his death. His whole life flashed before his eyes, his parents his beliefs, and the struggle to show the world what he sees. And it happened again, someone picked him up and dropped him at a different lane, but with such a speed that Eric could see nothing.

Eric couldn’t believe what’s happening. He looked around but this time he wasn’t alone and someone was standing behind him. And Eric was elated seeing him.

“Is it really you?”
“Yeah, it’s really Me.”

Eric’s swollen eye widened with excitement. He was standing before a person he had seen a lot, he had heard a lot and admired a lot. It was he who saved Eric getting hit by a truck. He was standing before a superhero. He was standing before The Flash!

“Umm, well, er… ” Eric couldn’t find words to describe his excitement.
“Hi”, Flash said noticing Eric’s nervousness, “What were you doing?”
“I was trying to kill myself, “Eric said,” I thought there are no miracles, no superheroes in the world.”
Flash chuckled. “Who told you this?”, Flash asked.
“Everyone says that there’s aren’t any miracles.”

Flash came closer to him and got on his knees.

“Look, son, look around, everything is a miracle. Society is always going to doubt your belief, your capabilities. Because they themselves are mediocre because they have convinced themselves that there are no superpowers.}You know I was the slowest kid back in my childhood, but I alway believe that I could travel faster than light. It’s the faith that makes you whatever you are.”

“They called you hypothetical, imaginary,” Eric said glumly.
“What’s hypothetical? I am hypothetical for them. A computer was
hypothetical for their parents,  a car was hypothetical for their
grandparents, electricity was hypothetical for their
great-grandparents.”

Eric was really elated knowing whatever he believed was true.
“So, do I have a superpower?”, Eric asked. “Which one?”
“Of course you have a superpower, we all are born with it. But it always remains dormant. The best way to lose your Power is by believing that you don’t have any. Kid, you need to discover that, you need to find it out yourself, just keep believing,” Flash said.

Eric’s face lit up, but suddenly happiness dried. Flash noticed that.
“Are you thinking about that cute blonde?”
”I didn’t know, you can read minds as well,” Eric said, surprised.
“No. Your eyes reveal a lot, especially the swollen one,” Flash winked.
”I would have been a good friend,” Eric said sadly.
“She wouldn’t. Why don’t you wait for someone of your type? Some superhero. Someone really beautiful like Starfire, she can literally light up your life. Or some other superhero. And then you both can work together and save the planet, also she won’t ever be your
weakness like it happens with most of the superheroes.”

Eric chuckled.
“Can I hug you?” Eric asked him.
“You have to catch me first,” Flash smiled. “Just kidding, come on.”

Eric hugged him. Tightly.

“Will you come again?”
”Sure. We can even work together if you don’t mind,” Flash said.

Eric nodded.
“Just remember son, it’s not life that gives us a purpose, it’s we who give a purpose to life. Never give up on your beliefs and your dreams,” Flash said.

Eric half smiled and nodded, and with a gush of wind Flash disappeared.

Eric soon discovered his superpower. Have you discovered yours yet?

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