June 5, 2015

Fiction By Sunil Kumar Poudyal: Hardship

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Sunil Kumar Poudyal is a poet, writer and journalist from Nepal (Country of Mt. Everest-South Asia).

Hardship
 
It was the middle of the first month of fall drizzling outside with a gentle breeze. The leaves of some trees had slowly started to change their color.  Squirrels were not busy jumping, playing and collecting nuts. They were hiding somewhere. Few birds were seen in the sky. Suddenly an idea clicked in my mind. I wanted to eat meat.
I longed to eat goat’s meat among so many choices, so I drove to the butcher’s shop to make my purchase. I decided to purchase a whole goat to enjoy with family members and friends. A boy in his late teens working in the butcher’s store took me to the pen. In between my walk from the store and the pen, I carefully studied the boy. He had worn T-shirt and pants but tattered in places.  He looked lovely and innocent. He was slim built with medium height. I felt interested to talk with him. ”Why are you working here?” I asked.
“Just to earn bread and butter,” He replied.
”Shouldn’t you be in school?” I asked.
He raised a question to me instead, “Having food is more important than study, I think. Is it not?” So simple but equally so vague and painful the question was that I felt aghast for some time.
“Don’t you have your parents?” I asked.
“Yes, but what do they do to help their children?” he replied.
Then neither of us spoke for a while
“Don’t you live with them?” I asked.
He looked at me with a pitiful look, but did not answer immediately. When we reached the pen, he opened the small door of the pen. I followed him inside. The pen was stinking. Just before I entered the pen, I had to use my hankie to cover my nose.  Through the congestion, I had to select one.
Among many goats some were big, some thin and some fat.   He gently requested me to select one from the flock. I thanked him and selected one which was moderate in size and weight. During my waste of time in selection I continued to converse with the boy. He started his story in a sad and low voice:
“My mother left me when I was five. I heard that she eloped with another man, leaving me with my father. In the beginning my father looked after me well. But after a year when he brought another wife, he started ignoring me. Once when my father was out of station for some days, his new wife beat me severely. She kicked me out of the house and I did not know where to go.  I walked aimlessly until I felt very tired. I passed the night in the porch of a church. I did not know how far it was from our surrounding. The next morning an elderly person approached me and asked who I was and where I was from. When I could not answer him properly he asked where my parents were. I could simply answer they were far away, how far I did not know.  He took me with him. Since then I started to live with him happily as I was given food and care. After some days I knew that he was the Priest of that church.” He stopped for some time. After selection of the goat, I said to him, “you are very good, lovely and helpful. Anytime if you need my help, do not hesitate.”
He stared at me with frightful eyes and shouted “stop, no more talking. Go to the shop and get your order.” I felt puzzled. I did not know what the matter was. I had not said any objectionable or infuriating words. So I once again tried to speak with him.
“Look boy, you are like my son. I do not know why you were angry with me. I don’t think that I told you bad words.” I told him sympathetically in a mild tone. He looked at me once, thought for some time and said, “I am sorry sir, but the words you expressed irritate me.”
I asked the reason. Once again he looked at me, lowered his eyes and started saying, “You know, I was happy with the old priest. My days had passed nicely with him. He had always treated me as his son. But unfortunately, after two years he died. And a new priest took his place. In the beginning he was also kind to me and loved me. I used to sleep in another room. One day he told me that I was not grown enough to sleep alone. I was thus asked to sleep in his room. He managed another bed for me.  
The regular routine went as usual for some days. One evening when I was preparing to sleep, he said, “Come sleep with me so that nobody can play witchcraft with you.” I had heard frightening stories of witchcraft in the childhood. Therefore I thought it would be good to sleep with him to protect myself from the witch. We slept together. I was about to feel asleep, I could only hear him saying, “You are lovely, you are good.”
I could not hear more than that.  I don’t know when I awoke. But when I awoke I felt that I was naked and he was trying to molest me. I felt frightened. I thought it was a witch. So I shouted calling him. He said, “Don’t worry, it is me.” I felt puzzled and helpless. I pretended to go to urinate and ran away in the midnight. Therefore from that time on I have irritation and antipathy with these words.”
After a pause he again said with a revelation of satisfaction, “You know, that priest was caught red handed molesting a boy one day and I heard that he was in jail. I am sure that the Lord savior punished him for his deed.”
By the time he finished his past history, we had already come out of the pen. I felt very sorry for him and said, “Well, never think me as he was. I am a man with wife and children. My children are bigger than you. If you want to study or need any help, you can come to me.”
I gave my address and phone number to him. He shook my hand and I could notice that his eyes were wet.
~Sunil Kumar Poudyal

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousJune 09, 2015

    This story is curious, sad and very possibly real. I checked again to see if listed fiction or not, as it turns out, it is listed as fiction. All too often parents in all cultures shrinking from their parental duties and privileges of raising children to cast them off. This writing portrayed the heart ache of the boy in a realistic word description. The words of lovely and good triggered the boy's memory of a sick adult using him in a pervertive manner. It was a hard piece to read but a reality tragically for too many innocent children in the world today.

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