The last chapter

image 1


NOW that Ram Bharosa has the blue umbrella (a gift from Binya, as he tells everyone) he sometimes goes out into the sun or the rain and, as a result, he looks much healthier. Sometimes he uses it to chase away pigs or goats. It is always left open outside the shop, and anyone who wants to borrow it may do so; and so in a way it has become everyone’s umbrella. It is faded and patchy, but it is still the best umbrella in the village.

     People are visiting Ram Bharosa’s shop again. Whenever Bijju or Binya stop for a cup of tea he gives them a little extra milk or sugar. They like their tea sweet and milky.

     A few nights ago, a bear visited Ram Bharosa’s shop. There had been snow on the higher ranges of the Himalayas, and the bear had been finding it difficult to get food; so it had come down to see what it could pick up near the village. That night it climbed onto the tin roof of Ram Bharosa’s shop and made off with a huge pumpkin which had been ripening on the roof. But in climbing off the door, the bear had lost a claw. The next morning Ram Bharosa found the claw outside the door of his shop. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. A bear’s claw was a lucky find.

     A day later when he went to the market, he took the claw with him and left it with a silversmith, giving the craftsman certain instructions.

    The silversmith made a locket for the claw; then he gave it a thin silver chain. When Ram Bharosa came again, he paid the silversmith ten rupees for his work.

     The days were growing shorter and Binya had to be home a little earlier every evening. There was a hungry leopard at large [walking around] and she couldn’t leave the cows out after dark. She was hurrying past Ram Bharosa’s shop when the old man called out to her.

     “Binya, spare a minute! I want to show you something.”

     Binya stepped into the shop.

     “What do you think of it?” asked Ram Bharosa, proudly showing her the silver pendant with the claw.

     “It’s so beautiful,” said Binya, touching the claw and the silver chain.

     “It’s a bear’s claw,” said Ram Bharosa. “It’s luckier than a leopard’s claw. Would you like to have it?”

     “I have no money,” said Binya.

     “That doesn’t matter. You gave me the umbrella, and I give you the claw! Come, let’s see what it looks like on you.” He placed the pendant on Binya—and indeed it looked very beautiful on her.

     Ram Bharosa says he will never forget the smile she gave him when she left the shop! She was halfway home when she realized she had left the cows behind.

     “Neelu, Neelu!” she called. “Gori!”

     Then there was a faint tinkle [soft ringing sound] of bells as the cows came slowly down the mountain path. In the distance she could hear her mother and Bijju calling for her. She began to sing. When they heard her singing they knew she was safe and near.

     Binya walked home through the glade, singing to the stars. The trees stood still and listened to her, and the mountains were glad.

    THE END

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - July 2021 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com