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Shortlisted Story Flash Fiction 2010
 
 

 Left with Nothing

By G.S.Vasukumar                     

Gopal squatted with his towel over his head, on the barren land which was shriveled and dry, with many cracks. The sun was burning like a red-hot ball of fire in the cloudless sky. The cool breeze had lost somewhere…It was getting hotter day by day. It had been almost six years since the rains had come. The village river had long dried up, so had many wells over a period of time. He couldn’t pay the interest on the loans which he had borrowed from the bank. Many nights, his two children had to go to sleep on empty stomachs. They neither had proper clothes to wear.

“Let me starve to death. But at least try to feed your growing children,” His old father had said. “What is the point in me living anymore? Only to see you people suffer like this?”

“Father, please don’t talk like this.” He had replied.

It was not like this year six or seven years back. At least they had never starved like this then. They used to celebrate many festivals lavishly. But that had only become a distant sweet memory now. He started working and helping his father in the field when he was young. Now, he looked far older than his actual age.

“How long do we have to suffer like this-?” His wife had asked him the previous night. “Even now our kids are sleeping on empty stomachs.”

“I know! But what can I do?” He said with a sigh.

“Why not we live this village and go somewhere else?” She asked.

“Where could we go? What if we have to suffer more than what we do over here?” He said.

“But we can’t stay here forever and suffer like this.” She said.

Some villagers had left for the far-off towns and cities. A few of them returned back unsuccessful. While no one knew what happen to the others.

Now, he had to make up his mind. He had one last glance at his field before returning home.

“This is my last bangle.” She said, removing and handing it to him.

“Anyway, it is of no use in the new place where we would be going.” He said taking it.

He went and sold it in the neighboring town and got some money. His wife cooked many delicacies after a long time. The children ate to their fill.

“Papa, do you think we’ll get food like this in the new place we are going?” asked his younger son.

“Son, one thing is sure that you’ll never have to starve like this in the new place.” He replied.

“How about new clothes, bangles, etc? Will I get to wear them over there?” asked his elder daughter, looking at the new clothes and bangles she was wearing.

“Sure, you will!” He said, smiling at her.

The old man had a delicious meal after a long-long time in his life too. It reminded him about the delicacies his late wife used to cook for him, when she was alive. His son had bought a new spectacle and a walking stick. He didn’t have to ask him where the money came from. He knew the answer the moment he saw his daughter-in-law’s bare hands, while serving food for him. He had tears in his eyes.

Next day, morning, it was cloudy. It was after a long time he was seeing a cloudy sky. The first drop of rain landed on his forehead. It felt so wonderful. The second landed on his cheek, and the third on his hand. He got up from his bed and went in shouting:-

“Son, wake up! See! It’s raining outside!”

But there was no response. Everyone was sleeping…sleeping not to get up again. He saw an empty bottle of poison lying on the floor.

“Alas! What have you people done?” He cried, hitting his hand on his forehead, and his eyes were wet with tears.