Outstanding Story (Sub-junior) - Eternal Light
“Eternal Light” is one of the outstanding stories (sub-junior) of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2019 written by Ashriya Gupta, Apeejay School Jalandhar, India.
“Hi Mom, I am back”, Riya called in on entering the house. She was a student of class fifth and studied at a premier institution of the city.
“Darling, go and change your clothes quickly so that we can dig in into one of your favorite dish… Pasta which I have prepared for lunch,” her mother, Ragini replied.
“O wow …sure I will”, said Riya and went upstairs to her room.
While they were eating their lunch Riya said, “Mom our English teacher today explained us about the concept of Eternal Light. The concept idolizes the premonition that God is Eternal and His presence can be felt in everything. Is it true? ” “Yes sweetheart, it is up to us to see that we glorify this light in order to make us more closer to God”, her mother answered.
“How?” asked Riya.
“By doing good deeds, helping others, making people around us smile. To be honest, kind, polite with everyone including animals is yet another way of getting near to God”.
Later on Riya began doing her homework. Suddenly the doorbell rang. Riya went to open the door and found Malti standing at the door.
Malti was the eight year old daughter of their maid who attended to the evening chores of the house.
Riya came back to her room after admitting Malti in so as to finish her remaining homework. Suddenly she felt as if she was being watched by someone. As soon as she lifted her head she found Malti staring at her from a considerable distance. The same thing has happened two or three times in the past also.
Riya called Malti who quickly turned to go away. “Malti, come here”, called Riya again, this time a little bit in a sternly. Malti came but kept her gaze down as if not in a position to confront Riya.
“Why do you look at me from a distance? Do you want something? I have seen you earlier also looking at me in the same manner. Is there a problem?” Riya asked.
Malti stammered but did not reply. But Riya encouraged her to speak to which Malti very shyly replied, “Didi (sister) I was not looking at you but was looking at these things” and she pointed at the books and stationery owned by Riya.
Riya asked, “Do you want my pen and books?
Malti replied, “What is the use of pen and books for me when I don’t know how to hold a pen even. But whenever I see you studying, I feel an ardent desire to read and write like you in order to become a big officer one day so that I may live a respectable life”
“Why don’t you go to school?” asked Riya.
“My mother does not allow me to get enrolled in a school. Didi you indeed are very lucky to go to school.”
“Why doesn’t your mother send you to school?” once again Riya asked.
“I don’t know Didi. You would have to ask her”, replied Malti.
Next day was Sunday …an off from school which gave Riya a chance to confront Shanta (Malti's mother) who came in mornings while the evening's work was done by Malti.
“Shanta aunty, why don’t you send Malti to school?”
“What will she do in school? What is the use of wasting money on education?” replied Shanta
“She can study in order to have a good career in her future. Besides she has a keen interest in going to school. I have found her many times looking longingly at my books. Please let her go to school.”
“No Riya beta (child)”, said Shanta in an annoying voice. “Malti is a stupid girl to dream so high. Besides if she goes to school, she will not be able to earn the meager sum of money that she makes by doing household chores, in the absence of which our financial condition will worsen.”
Riya became silent on hearing this but still whenever she saw Malti she was forced to contemplate about the whole situation.
One day unable to control herself further, Riya went to her English teacher and discussed the whole issue with her.
Together they came up with a unique solution and the same day went to Shanta's house in the evening.
“Shantaji, I am Mrs Deepika Verma, Rita’s teacher. I am also a part of NGO Udaan.
Riya has told me the whole story concerning Malti and the reason why you are afraid of sending her to school. I have a proposal for you. Since Malti works only till five in the evening, she can become a part of our weekend classes that runs from seven to nine in the adjoining locality not far from here. Also if you find it appropriate, she can join our vocational classes in the noon for which we charge nothing but which can make her excel in crafts like stitching, basket weaving, etc which may help her to become independent one day.”
Malti who was also standing there saw a ray of hope for herself but remained silent fearing of her mother.
“Malti, will you be joining now? Your dream of reading and writing will come true. Plus we will pay a certain stipend money in lieu of joining our vocational course.” said Mrs. Deepika.
Malti looked at her mother's astonished face but still did not say a word. “Shanta aunty, for God’s sake please say yes”, urged Riya to which Shanta slowly nodded and said “Yes”
There were years of happiness in Malti's eyes and for Riya it was her way to glorify ETERNAL LIGHT.