Highly Commended Story - Sub-junior Category
“Unconditional Love” by Sreeja Krishnan, Unicent School, India, is the Highly Commended story in the sub-junior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Sreeja is a grade 5 student at the Unicent school in Hyderabad, India. As an animal lover, she believes that our planet is as much a home to them as it is to us. Her grandmothers Vanaja and Saroja are her source of inspiration and most of her story ideas stem from their personal experiences and encounters. She is fond of the Panchatantra; books by Sudha Murthy, Enid Blyton and Rudyard Kipling. She finds Applied Science extremely intriguing and is keen on Dramatics too. Sreeja is a Blue belt in Karate and aspires to be a Black belt in the years to come. When she is much older, she would want to serve her nation, especially the less fortunate and the needy.
Trikkur was a quaint little village set on a small hill in Kerala. Amidst the lush greenery and meandering streams, few huts dotted the village. One of the huts belonged to Kamala who was in her late sixties. She was a kind and a helpful lady and was lovingly called Kamalamma by the villagers.
Kamala was a milkmaid. She would make fresh curd and delicious butter from milk. The source of this milk was her most loved companion, Gouri – the cow. Gouri was a beautiful cow, the Gir breed. She was brown in colour with majestic horns. Her milk was the purest of all. Kamala would talk and sing to Gouri while milking her. The cow would nod and moo as if to tell her Kamalamma that she was the best master she could ever have had. Kamala would feed her nothing but the sweetest fresh grass, clean her up and bathe her every single day. Even during the scorching summers or the relentless rains, Kamala would continue this routine ardently. The villagers too loved Gouri and enjoyed the milk and butter that Kamala would sell them.
Months rolled into years. Kamala’s energy levels were dipping. She was growing old and could barely take care of herself. On some days she would be so tired that feeding or milking Gouri seemed like a gargantuan task. To save Gouri from this misery, she gave her away to a rich merchant in the neighbouring village where Gouri would be well taken care of. Though it was a tough decision to make, Kamala felt that she was doing the right thing for her only companion.
Kamala would have never imagined that parting with Gouri would be so painful that soon she became very sick and bed-ridden. While the neighbours took care of their Kamalamma, she was still distraught with agony.
A few days passed. Lonely Kamala was lying in her bed still thinking about her dear Gouri. The golden sun was about to set when she heard a familiar tinkling of bells. Kamala sprang out of her bed as though she had never been ailing. Gouri stood there, knocking her horns at the mud wall, waiting for her Kamalamma to embrace her. With eyes filled with tears, Kamala stroked Gouri’s forehead lovingly.
Kamala was awed by this cow’s love and her accurate sense of direction which had brought her back to her home. Gouri was not only intelligent but also an animal who loved her master unconditionally.