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By: Mohammed Shahzad Aslam

The Butterfly Will Always Float

Pages: 196 Ratings:
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It’s a wet and windy night in the city of Mumbai. Away from all the glitz and glamour in the commercial capital is a hellish life on the streets; of begging and cringing with no self-respect. It is the Mumbai of the hard-working poor, and the Mumbai of the aspiring migrant, with his fierce drive for survival and self-improvement, the Mumbai of small enterprise, the Mumbai of cottage industries, the Mumbai of poor yet strong women, running entire households on the strength of their income from making papads. Every morning, these women put food on the table, braid their daughters’ hair, and send them to schools. They have hope for the future but this is the Mumbai of dreams.On a wet wintry night in November in a dark old gym on the corner of a poor shantytown in Mumbai. The sign on the window reads, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym. Champions are made here.” Over the door hangs an old sign blowing in the wind reading Mangal’s gym. Inside a 12-year-old boy sweeps the floor after an end to the day’s proceedings. The Butterfly Will Always Float tells the tale of twelve-year-old Johnny, growing up in the slums of Mumbai whose father left when he was a kid and mother is a drug addict. He is overweight and has a speech impairment making it difficult for him to communicate with others. By day he attends the local municipality school in one of the most deprived areas in Mumbai and by night he is a helping hand at Mangal’s gym.Johnny; a loner is bullied at school and at home, has no friends and is fearful for his future. He spends most of his time at the gym with Mangal a.k.a Baba and a poster of his hero Muhammad Ali. Each day Johnny wishes the bullying would stop and prays that someone would see his pain and reach out a helping hand. But nothing happens and Johnny continues to be bullied at school with no one to turn to, he thinks about ending his life. It's believed that children have the strongest connection to god and he makes a final wish. Little does Johnny know his prayer is about to be answered. One night as Johnny is cleaning up at the gym, he has a chance encounter with a ghost; the ghost of Muhammad Ali and his life is changed forever. Ali and other boxing legends such as Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis inhabit Mangals’s gym to help Johnny with competing at the under-16 amateur boxing competition against Boss, the head of the gang of bullies, and some local gangsters.The Butterfly Will Always Float tells a story of how a 12-year-old innocent boy befriends a spirit of one of the icons of the 20th century discovering inner resources of strength and courage to overcome his insecurities.A magical tale that will leave you moist-eyed.“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”– Muhammad Ali

S. Aslam was born and raised in South Yorkshire. He has worked in the clinical research sector for over seventeen years, helping to bring medicines onto the market to help improve the lives of people.

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