“The Village” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2017 written by Naviya Chamariya, India.
Mahi would wake up every day and find her sister, Gita, entering the house with a few flowers. Gita would go to the temple by the sea every morning. Gita was just a fifteen-year-old girl but had to do everything on her own. This was because her mother was very ill and her father was a drunkard.
The village Gita and her family lived in was called Bongaigaon which was on a sea bank. The place was a very beautiful one with only hills and small huts around with a calm sea by their footsteps. Since they had a sea nearby, most of the people would do fishing but sadly Gita couldn’t do it and her father wouldn’t do it. She had younger siblings: a brother, Gopal, who was 12 years old and a sister, Mahi, who was 9 years old.
Earlier, when her father wouldn’t drink so much, all the three kids would go to school but when the situation became bad, in fact, worse, Gita had to give up school as she didn’t want her siblings to suffer. Just during those bad times, their mother became very ill, which was another burden on Gita’s shoulders.
They were in a very bad state and to earn a living and feed five people, she had to work in other people’s houses as a charwoman. She had to manage the expenses of her mother’s medicines and siblings’ school fees. Even her father was making a lot of trouble by spending a lot of money on alcohol.
Gita tried to do many things like fishing, farming etc., but none of them were her cup of tea. As time passed by, the situation became worse. Unwillingly, even Gopal had to give up his studies. This made him very sad. He could not think of anything but about the fun he had in school and about those wonderful moments he spent with his friends in school.
One day, while he was outside the temple, he met one of his friends, Ravi, coming back from school.
“Hey, did you hear about the new factory coming in our village?” Ravi asked.
“Really?” Gopal was very excited. This gave Gopal hopes, because factories usually need a lot of workers and he thought that even he would go and look for a job.
He and all his family members waited for many days but there was no sign of any employment. So he started thinking about some other work: He tried doing some farming, and some fishing, but couldn’t. One day he saw a big crowd on the beach. It was for the people who wanted to go to Mumbai for work. Gopal was fully ready for it, but Gita refused abruptly to this suggestion of his.
Gopal was really sad but on the day everyone was leaving for Mumbai, Gopal couldn’t resist and left the house without telling anyone, except for Mahi who had seen him going. When he reached the meeting place, he realised that there was no child or adult whom he knew. However, he moved on.
He reached Mumbai and there he realised that it was very difficult to look for work in an unknown place. That day, while walking with his group from Bongaigaon, Gopal lost his way and while trying to find his way, he came to a slum area. There he saw that there was a small hotel in which small boys were working. He went there and to his utmost pleasure, he got a job there with a salary of Rs. 10 per day.
However, that work was not that fun and very tiring indeed. He kept getting letters from home, but replied to very few. There was a small watch shop opposite the hotel. Its owner, Mr. D’souza, was very good and whenever Gopal had any free time, he would go there and learn how to repair watches and clocks. Mr. D’souza used to pay him for every watch or clock he would repair. This way, he earned money from two different sources: the hotel and the watch shop.
After six months of struggle, Gopal went back home, with every penny saved. There, all his family members rejoiced in his presence and with the money he earned, they planned to treat their mother and indeed set to work. There was also a huge change in their father because after seeing his children work so hard, he resolved never to drink again and just like a fairy tale, ‘THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.’
Moral – Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.