Chapter 10

THE BLUE UMBRELLA

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leftumbrella

Bijju and Binya passed Ram Bharosa’s shop almost every day. Bijju went by with a loud but tuneless whistle. He was one of the world’s whistlers; cares rested lightly on his shoulders. But, strangely enough, Binya went quietly past the shop, looking the other way, almost as though she was in some way responsible for the misery [great sadness] of Ram Bharosa.

     She kept reasoning with herself, telling herself that the umbrella was her very own, and that she couldn’t help it if others were jealous of it. 

     But had she loved the umbrella too much? Had it mattered more to her than people mattered? She couldn’t help feeling that in a small way she was the cause of the sad look on Ram Bharosa’s face and the ruinous [failing] condition of his shop. (“His face is a yard long,” Bijju would say.) It was all due to his own greed, no doubt. But she didn’t want him to feel too bad about what he did, because it made her feel bad about herself; and so she closed the umbrella whenever she came near the shop, opening it again only when she was out of sight.

     One day towards the end of October, when she had ten paise in her pocket, she entered the shop and asked the old man for a toffee. She was Ram Bharosa’s first customer in almost two weeks. He looked suspiciously [without trust] at the girl. Had she come to taunt him [to make him feel bad], to flaunt [show off] the umbrella in his face? She placed her coin on the counter. Perhaps it was a bad coin. Ram Bharosa picked it up and bit it; he held it up to the light; he rang it on the ground. It was a good coin. He gave Binya the toffee.

     Binya had left the shop when Ram Bharosa saw the closed  umbrella lying on his counter. The blue umbrella he had always wanted was within his grasp [reach of his hand] at last! He could hide it at the back of his shop and no one would know that he had it—no one could prove that Binya had left it behind.

     He stretched out his trembling [shaking from fear], bony hand, and took the umbrella by the handle. He pressed it open. He stood beneath [under] it, in the dark shadows of his shop, where no sun or rain could ever touch it.

     “But I’m never in the sun or in the rain,” he said aloud. “Of what use is an umbrella to me?”

     And he hurried outside and ran after Binya.

     “Binya, Binya!” he shouted. “Binya, you left your umbrella behind!”

     He wasn’t used to running, but he caught up with her and held out the umbrella saying, “You forgot it, the umbrella!”

     In that moment it belonged to both of them. But Binya didn’t take the umbrella. She shook her head and said, “You keep it. I don’t need it any more.”

     “But it’s such a pretty umbrella!” protested Ram Bharosa. “It’s the best umbrella in the village.”

    “I know,” said Binya. “But an umbrella isn’t everything.” She left the old man holding the umbrella and went tripping down the road. There was nothing between her and the bright blue sky.


umbrella


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