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Friday, August 26, 2005

Reward

Mangoo was a very hardworking man. He earned his livelihood by ploughing in the fields except on weekends when he would go to the railway station and take passengers back to the village. It made him a good earning. Besides he was a contented man and the thought that he had honest means of earning always satisfied him. At home, Mangoo had a wife, a son and a daughter, and the small family was living a happy life.
It was Saturday and Mangoo left for the railway station on his tonga. Of all his animals it was Dilber, his horse, that he loved the most. He would always talk to him as though Dilber were one of his friends, and Dilber seemed to understand every bit of what Mangoo said. Dilber also loved his master and never showed slackness. Dilber still remembered the day when Mangoo bought him from another man who also owned his mother. She advised him to be an active horse as he grew young, and talked of some reward everyone gets after death. Thus Dilber never showed sluggishness, he was always curious about this reward.
It had been a very busy day and Mangoo couldn’t return home before dark, but he was happy that he had earned more than usual. The weather was changing, thought Mangoo, as the cold wind made him shiver. By the time he reached home he had already caught cold.
Adversity never knocks at the door and good times may vanish like bubbles in the wind, and so it happened with Mangoo and his family. Mangoo couldn’t recover from his fever and died within a few days. Chauhdary Sahab, the village’s landlord, was a sympathetic man. He arranged for Mangoo’s burial, gave his wife some money and also arranged for meals two times a day for a whole week. It was for the first time that Mangoo’s children had seen so much food, and Mangoo’s daughter, who was too young to understand the critical situation, was rather excited about it.
As the week was over, Mangoo’s family was now starving, even Dilber had eaten nothing for the last five days and the stock of his fodder had run short. For a few days Mangoo’s wife managed by selling the little jewellery she had, then she slaughtered all of her hens and sold them until she was left with nothing but Mangoo’s favourite horse, Dilber. One day, she went to Chauhdary Sahab’s wife with the hope that she might find some work to do and thus be able to keep her children from starving, but she was told to come back after a month. As she cam home, she noticed the signs of hunger on her children’s faces. She sat dejected by the empty fire place when her daughter came to her and said,
‘When would brother die, Mother?’
‘Hush! Why do you say that?’, replied the mother bewildered by the question.
‘When brother dies, we get to eat good food’, said the daughter innocently.
The little girl’s words proved a blow to the mother’s mind and she burst into tears. Dilber was observing all this, but he could do nothing, and he was himself down o the ground. Mangoo’s wife then stood up and locked the children in the room. Dilber looked at the sky for the last time, as Mangoo’s wife approached her with a knife in her hand, he wanted to see what reward he gets.

August 25, 2005


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