Outstanding Stories » The Gift of Life
“The Gift of Life” is one of the outstanding stories (senior) of the second biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Swati Mahadevan, DPSIS, Singapore.
The Gift of Life
David, an eighteen-year-old boy, lived with his mother and his older brother, Ben. Their father had passed away due to cancer three years ago and had left the family to fend for themselves. Their mother had taken up an editing job at a newspaper office to run the house. The family was now being taken care of by Ben who had finished college and had started working as a doctor.
David and his brother were inseparable and they always helped each other out in times of need. Even when David was bullied by other students in the school for being short for his age, Ben had stood up for him. On 13th of August, it was David's nineteenth birthday. Every year Ben had held a surprise party for David inviting all their family friends. But this year, Ben decided to organize a boating trip since his brother had always wanted to go boating with the family. However, on that day, their mother came down with a fever and was unable to accompany them. Both David and Ben wanted to stay at home to take care of their mother, but she insisted that they go celebrate David's birthday and that she would be fine with some rest. So, they both packed their bags and set out to go to the beach. When they reached their destination, they rented a boat and went into the waters. The day was a pleasant one and the seabirds chirped with joyousness. Both the brothers were in a buoyant mood as the serenity of the waves gently flowing and the sunlight gleaming on the water surface had lifted their spirits. They kept talking about recent events and were catching up on what they had missed in each other's lives as they rowed that they didn't notice that their boat had drifted far away from the shore.
The sky had started darkening and suddenly it began pouring heavily. Both the brothers were shocked by the sudden storm and tried to row back to shore when they realized with great dismay that they had lost their way. All they could see was the heavy downpour and the river which stretched on endlessly. Suddenly, in the midst of all the chaos, their boat collided with the sharp edge of a jagged submerged rock and a large crack appeared in the middle of the floor of the boat. As water started gushing into the boat through the crack, Ben and David tried to stop the water from entering the boat in vain. When it became apparent that nothing else could be done, Ben jumped into the water. David in a sudden motion managed to hold on to his brother's arm. David screamed at his brother asking him why he was jumping into the water. As Ben struggled in the crashing waves, he said to his brother," David, this boat can't support both our weights. Only one of us can go back to shore. I am your older brother and it is my duty to protect you. Don't think that it is your fault that I'm going to die. I choose to die so that you can live. Take care of our mother." Saying this Ben pulled his arm out of David's grasp and disappeared into the waves. David, despite being grief-stricken at his brother's sacrifice, managed to row with great difficulty. As he neared the shore, the rescue team spotted him and brought him to land. There he saw his mother who had arrived when she had got a call from the beach authorities that her sons were missing. Her relief at seeing David was quickly replaced by grief when he told her about Ben's sacrifice.
A few days later, on Ben's funeral day, David wept bitterly as he stared at his brother’s coffin being lowered into the ground. The loss of his only brother had affected him so deeply as if he had lost a part of his own soul. But even as tears rolled down from his eyes, he had a small smile on his face as it dawned upon him that his brother had given him the best gift that he had ever received on his birthday. The gift of life.