Chapter 9

THE BLUE UMBRELLA

umbrella



cliff


Rajaram was crossing the shallow stream when Bijju caught up with him. Rajaram was the taller boy, but Bijju was much stronger. He flung [threw] himself at the thief, caught him by the legs, and brought him down in the water. Rajaram got to his feet and tried to get away, but Bijju still had him by one leg. Rajaram came down again with a great splash. He had let the umbrella fall. It began to float away on the current [the moving water]. Just then Binya arrived, flushed [red and hot from running] and breathless, but went dashing [running fast] into the stream after the umbrella.

     Meanwhile, the two boys swayed together on a rock, tumbled on to the sand, rolled over and over the pebbled bank until they were again thrashing about in the shallows of the stream. The magpies, bulbuls, and other birds were disturbed, and flew away with cries of alarm.

     Covered with mud, Rajaram lay flat on his back, exhausted [really tired], while Bijju sat astride [on top of] him, pinning [holding] him down with his arms and legs. “Let me get up!” cried Rajaram. “Let me go—I don’t want your useless umbrella!”

     “Then why did you take it?” demanded Bijju. “Come on, tell me why!”

     “It was that skinflint [a person who never spends money and takes money from other people unfairly] Ram Bharosa,” said Rajaram. “He told me to get it for him. He said if I didn’t get it, I would lose my job.”

umbrella


     “By early October the rains were coming to an end. The ferns turned yellow, and the sunlight on the green hills was mellow [soft, gentle] and golden like the limes on the small tree in front of Binya’s home. Bijju’s days were happy ones, as he came home from school, munching [chewing] on roasted corn. Binya’s umbrella had turned a pale milky blue and was patched in several places, but it was still the prettiest umbrella in the village and she still carried it with her whenever she went.

     The cold, cruel winter wasn’t far off—but somehow October seems longer than other months, because it is a kind month: the grass is good to lie on, the breeze is warm, gentle and pine scented. That October everyone seemed content—everyone, except Ram Bharosa.

marketstand

     The old man had given up all hope of ever owning Binya’s umbrella. He wished he had never set eyes on it. Because of the umbrella he had suffered the tortures of greed and the despair of loneliness. Because of the umbrella, people had stopped coming to his shop.

     When it became known that Ram Bharosa had tried to steal the umbrella, the village people turned against him and stopped trusting the old man. Instead of buying their soap and tea and matches from his shop, they walked an extra mile to the shops near the Tehri bus stand. Who would have dealings [business] with a man who had sold his soul for an umbrella? The children taunted [teased] him and twisted his name around. From “Ram the Trustworthy” he became “Trusty Umbrella Thief ”. The old man sat alone in his emtpy shop, listening to the hissing of his kettle and wondering if anyone would ever again step in for a glass of tea. 

     Ram Bharosa had lost his own appetite, and ate and drank very little. There was no money coming in. He had his savings in a bank in Tehri but it was a terrible thing to have to dip into your savings! To save money, he dismissed [fired, let go of] Rajaram. So Ram Bharosa was left without any company. The roof leaked, the wind got in through the walls—but Ram Bharosa didn’t care.


umbrella


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