Thursday, 19 January 2012

Retold in winter: A hot summer’s tale


I seem to be doing this recounting thing quite a bit. It’s deep winter nowadays, very cold, and I continue to admonish my (now grown-up) children when they are not adequately by my ageing standards clothed in woollens. This story from my Hindi textbook (junior school again) comes back to me frequently, though it's about a very hot summer day:

My digital sketch of the farmer.
On that scorching afternoon, to step out was almost like walking on coals. Yet, braving the heat, a young man was trying to tile the roof so that their hut cooled somewhat.
Again and again, his father urged him to abandon his post. 
He had been struggling all day on an empty stomach to fix the thatch and tiles, and the farmer feared for his health. The old man tried to watch him at work, but couldn’t bear the blazing sun and hot wind any more. He moved into the shade, still trying to cajole him.
“It’s useless,” he called out. “You cant possibly tile it all in one day. Enough for now, my son. Oh well, go back to it near sundown.” 
“No. You go in, Father, I’ll join you as soon as I am done,” came the reply.
The farmer stood by the door, irresolute. Then, as if struck by an idea, his eyes lit up and he disappeared into the hut. 
“Where are you taking the child, Father?” a woman suddenly cried. The farmer emerged with an infant in his arms. The child’s mother was right behind him.
The old man pulled forth a cot lying in a corner of the yard, and laid the baby on it. He motioned to the shocked woman to stay where she was. Instead, he joined her as the child let out a loud wail. The young man raced down the ladder and picked up his son.
Livid, he turned to his father. “Why did you do it? My child could die of sunstroke, don’t you know that?”
“Indeed I do, my son, I know it only too well,” said the farmer very softly. “Now bring him indoors.”

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