The paddy leaves were blowing in the soft, cool morning breeze, slightly bent from the weight of the now yellow grains which looked almost golden as Arun ran, with his sister trailing behind him giggling and pleading him to slow down. His sister's giggles and childish voice sounded almost angelic as it echoed through the field.
He stopped abruptly and turned around to see she had stopped running as she stood there in the middle of the paddy field, bent, with her hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath. Her long loose hair blowing in the wind as the skirt of her printed flowery dress ballooned.
“I told you to slow down, I can't run as fast as you Aiya!” she yelled, slightly annoyed with him.
“I am sorry Nangi, I will slow down, I keep forgetting that you can't run as fast as me!” Arun teased smiling lovingly at his sister Saumya who was four years younger than him.
At his teasing remark, Saumya stuck her tongue out at him and started running. To his utter shock she ran as fast as her little legs could carry her. Arun found it difficult to keep up with her pace. It looked as though his little sister was vanishing right before his very eyes as she became nothing but a tiny dot in the distance.
He called after her, “Nangi......Saumya, wait for me!”
And then she was gone!
Arun woke up startled and sat up, with beads of sweat covering his forehead and upper body, gasping for breath, heart pounding inside his chest, calling out his little sister's name. He suddenly realised where he is, in bed at his boarding house somewhere in the middle of the bustling city. Far away from his dear mother and sister and his peaceful village.
It has been only three months since he came to the city. He had found a job at a reputed bank working as a Teller. He had bid farewell with a heavy heart to the only two people dearest to him and the village he was born and grew up in and moved to the city.
It was the first time that Arun had stepped outside of his village. Everything and everyone was foreign to him. The way they talked, the way they behaved was not something that he was accustomed to. People were strangers here unlike in his village where everybody knew each other and looked out for one another.
He missed that closeness that unity, the togetherness he felt when growing up as a boy back in his village. He felt lonely, even though he was living amidst a noisy and crowded city. He had never felt more alone.
What Arun missed most of all was his mother's cooking. He found it hard to stomach some of the food that was available in the city. It was sometimes bland and tasteless and unhealthy. He longed for his mother's cooking whenever he sat down to eat the tasteless food that was on offer at some of the little restaurants and cafes he frequented. He would often tear up remembering his mother and sister in the kitchen preparing those mouth-wateringly delicious meals that he so missed.
But there was one consolation. The letters he received from his sister, regaling him of the goings-on in the village. She left nothing out, as she remembered to include all of the gossip and tales gathered in and around their neighbourhood. He looked forward to her letters with great anticipation and longing.
He got in to the habit of regaling his colleagues at the bank about the goings-on in his village, much to their annoyance, who by now have gotten tired of listening to him going on and on about his blessed village. So much so that it led to some of them nicknaming him, ‘the villager' behind his back.
“I swear, the next time he mentions that village of his, I will punch him in the stomach!” one of his colleagues said one day during their tea break when Arun wasn't around.
“Yes, I know, what's so special about his village anyway. He talks about it as if it's heaven!” said another.
“Come on people, give the guy a break, he is just homesick, that's all. He must be missing it terribly and his family. I would too, if I had to leave my home behind and come to the city!” replied their manager.
The manager continued as he got up to pour himself a second cup of tea.
“You, city folks don't understand what it's like to grow up in a rural village. It's so peaceful, so serene and quiet. Life there is so simple, so calm and beautiful. It's nothing compared to this noisy, polluted, rat-infested city, full of thieves, con-artists and murderers!”
“okay......okay, boss, now don't you start breaking into a song about the beauty and charm of rural village life. Please spare us! We get an earful from Arun every single day!” the guy who wanted to punch Arun said, as he got down on his knees and begged in the middle of the cafeteria as the manager and the rest of the staff broke out with laughter.
A month later...........
Arun was looking forward to the upcoming holiday season. It is the only holiday during which he could go visit and be with his family. It was only a month away. He had been marking the calendar, counting the days, eagerly anticipating the day he gets to go home finally as he was not able to, every weekend because of his banking classes happening every Saturday.
He had been busy going shopping for gifts, to take home to his mother and sister who were eagerly awaiting his arrival. The Sinhalese new year is an important holiday in the country, especially in villages like his, where tradition has always been a crucial part of their lives.
He could almost smell the sweet aromas wafting from the kitchen as his mother prepared the milk rice and all the sweetmeats that was a part of the traditional new year breakfast table. “I can't wait to go home” he told himself dreamily.
Two weeks later..............
Sama stood in the front doorway of the house looking towards the pathway leading to their front yard. She was eagerly awaiting the arrival of her son. “He should be walking up the pathway any moment now” she told herself.
A few minutes passed. Then she heard the sound of footsteps approaching towards the house. She ran into the front yard the moment she realised who it was. Arun, her son has finally returned home.
She ran towards him and embraced him warmly with tears running down her face. Then at that very moment she heard a voice calling out to her.
She glanced in the direction of the voice and looked into the face of her younger daughter Saumya gazing down at her.
“Podi Duwa, is he home yet? Why is he so late?” she asked with an earnest expression on her face.
“Amma, Aiya is gone, remember? He met with an accident two days ago while on his way here. We are waiting for the undertakers to bring his coffin home.” Saumya replied with a trembling voice, as she fought back tears.
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This was really interesting and I very much like the unexpected ending. If you want a suggestion it would just be to double check the tenses are consistent all the way through, there were a couple of places where I got confused. But otherwise we'll done!
Thank you very much, Katherine. I am glad you enjoyed reading it.😊
Good job! I think this story was really nice. It had a nice flow of direction and nothing seemed out of place or too sudden. The twist ending was done really well too. Great story!
Thank you so much Isabel. I am glad you liked it.😊
Thank you so much.😊
Nice job, Melissa! In particular, the office conversation seemed very real to me. As a reader, I felt longing for the village and irony at the end. I wonder if you might have strung the reader along a while longer in the anticipation of Anita’s return. The waiting was so heartbreaking—I felt it was the essence of the story. Anyway, we’ll done!
Hi Amy - Thank you for your comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading my story.😊
Holy cow, I did not expect that ending at all. Look what you did, I’m tearing up right now 😭 It worked, though! Dying as a result is the ultimate way of encapsulating the protagonist’s incompatibility with city life. You even hinted at it with the line about murderers and the other dangers, so it didn’t feel too abrupt. As for a critique, I recommend using only three dots “...” for ellipses. It keeps things consistent and is easier on the eyes if you ask me! Good stuff, overall! Keep it up! 😙
Hi Rayhan, thank you for your comments. I am glad you liked it. I am sorry if I made you tear up.😉 Honestly, when I started to write this, I had no idea how the ending is going to be. Finally decided to give it a sombre ending.😊
Amma - Mother Aiya - Older Brother Nangi - Younger Sister Podi Duwa - Younger Daughter Your feedback is most welcome!😊