chase their dreams / 2
Local students show off their literary stuff in McEntyre Writing Competition
Introduction by Wayne Larsen.
In what has become an annual tradition in Westmount schools, the McEntyre Writing Competition always attracts a wide variety of thoughtful and creative entries, and the 2015 edition was no exception.
Endowed by the late Peter McEntyre, mayor of Westmount from 1969 to 1971, the competition encourages young writers to express themselves on a designated topic, each designed to get the creative juices flowing. It is coordinated each year by the Westmount Public Library.
This year, “Chasing a Dream” was the topic assigned to students in grades 1 through 11.
While local newspapers have printed the names of the winners each year, space restrictions made it impossible to publish all of the winning essays. Now, for the first time, Westmount Magazine presents the full texts of the first-place entries in each grade category, as supplied by the Westmount Public Library.
Grade 5 — Dylan Lee of Selwyn House
Espoir lost her father at a tender age. She didn’t remember much of him, only the soft caress of his hands and his soothing voice. He and her mother had a dream for Espoir. They hoped that she would be the first in the family to be educated, to become a teacher, and to live in the capital city. He was taken away to fight and never come back, but Espoir learnt that later. a few years later, her older brothers were also taken away to war. He mother cried and hugged hem tightly. Espoir was old enough to remember her brothers well, she missed them terribly.
“Mom, I’m older now, Can I work at the market while Fleur is sick?” Espoir pleaded, “I can work at the fruit stand, and I don’t mind the fruit bats there. I want to help our family”
“No Espoir,” her mother replied “We always wanted you to be educated. You will be going to school soon, I have been saving up money. Now wash your hands, dinner’s ready.”
Fleur was getting worse. Espoir was worried. “Are you feeling better?”
Fleur said with a weak smile, “I think I am recovering.” Suddenly she started to cough some blood! this frightened Espoir.
Her mother instructed, “Espoir, go fetch one of the doctors in the full body suits.”
Espoir was lying down in a cot next to her mother in a tent. Fleur was kept separately for the more seriously ill. It had been some days since they had last heard news of Fleur’s conditions.
Espoir thought, “I’ can’t lose Fleur. She and Mom are the only ones I have left in this world. She will survie, she is strong.”
One of the doctors walked in with his head bowed and spoke to Espoir’s mother in a hushed tone. Espoir’s mother went very still.
She asked. voice cracking, “Can I hold my child? I lost my two sons and husband and never got to say my goodbyes to them. I need to bury her!”
The doctor had pain in his eyes, but he said firmly, “I am very sorry for your loss, but we can’t let you touch her. Her body is still very contagious. It is not safe for you and your daughter.”
Espoir was in shock. Now, all her brothers and sisters are gone.
Few days later, her mother started to cogh violently. The doctors moved her to the same tent where Fleur was kept. Espoir ws scared. She couldn’t… no wouldn’t lose her mother.
“No,” she thought, “Mother is strong and she must get better.”
Espoir was kept from visiting her mother by the nurses. She stayed in the big tent with other patients, doctors and nurses that came to check on her. But she was all alone and scared.
Few nights later, Espoir overheard two nurses talking, “Her mother is worsening. The doctors say it could be soon.”
The other replied, “The girl has almost recovered. Can we risk the chance of further contamination?”
“It would be too cruel to not let her see her for the last time.” the first one argued.
“Very well,” the other conceded, “but we must put protective clothing on her.”
Espoir was numb with dread. Suited, Espoir rushed to her mother’s side.
Her mother whispered to her, “Espoir, my child. Promise me that you will get better. You are my last hope.”
“Mother, remember our dream, you must get better!” Espoir sobbed.
“My dearest. That was our old dream.” She was fading. “Now, you are alone. All I hope and dream for you is for you to grow up.”
“How?” Espoir asked desperately.
With her barely audible voice rasping. “Dearest, know that you are strong. I will always be with you.”
The next night her mother died. There were no tears in Espoir’s eyes, she had none left. She was numb with grief and loneliness. She saw no hope. She heard a lady crying and coughing few cots away. She heard from the nurses that she had just lost her daughter that night. Espoir got out of her cot and poured the lady some water.
A woman sat in a plane headed for a remote place in Southeast Asia. Next to her was a medical bag, inscrived Espoir Condé, MD, Chief Epidemiologist. She was on a mission to control a new outbreak of an unknown disease. As it always happened before arriving at her destination, she relived the same series of flashbacks. The painful memories of her long lost family, especially losing her sister and mother to the 2014 West African Ebola Epidemic. The feeling of abandonment, being all alone in a country plagued by disease and war. At the moment of her darkest despair, an act of kindness born from empathy became a hope for her future. Madame Condé was the lady who had lost her daughter the same night Espoir lost her mother. During their quarantine, they filled the cracks of their broken hearts, and bonded as mother and daughter.
Madame Condé revived Espoir’s dead dream. She was the headmistress of a prestigious school in Conakry, Guinea. Espoir studied medicine in some of the best European universities, determined to prevent the same suffering and loss she had experienced for others. She became one of the renowned experts in epidemiology. Despite many offers from major health centers around the world, she chose to return to Conakry. With her adopted mother, they opened up a health center and an orphanage next to the school. Espoir’s new dream is to mend the shattered dreams of others orphans, as she too nearly lost. After all, “Espoir” is hope.