Shoemaker and the Apprentice
Short Story – Part–2
His mother was sick that day so the apprentice could not go to the shoemaker’s store. And the boy requested a day off. With great irresolution, the shoemaker gave it. ‘You must meet me at the party lounge anyway. I have a carton to transfer to home. Will you not?’ he asked. The boy replied in the affirmative. ‘ 7 pm’ – He said. And the apprentice went to the N.N. Hospital with his mother. The mother had to be administered sedation. She had some fluctuations in sodium levels. She behaved oddly. earlier she had some fluctuations in her potassium levels. That time she behave differently still. ‘Keep the Bible in the auto-rickshaw’, she instructed the boy. She was not completely alright. Her moods change. The boy thought- after the frequent sickness, her views of life are changing . Was it a change? Maybe. Mother was disinclined to talk. After papa’s passing, she was not performing fit for some interval. Earlier she was not much into religious things. She was born a Christian and baptised in childhood. His father was Hindu. Theirs was a love marriage. And his father was a driver by profession. When he died in an accident, mother became lonely . Even then she did not read religious books. Her colleagues were Lara and Alicia, her neighbour who she called Liz. They were good mates.
She wrote to her only brother in Singapore so that the boy’s education could be competed. The schools in the nearby areas ask big donation which they cannot have the wherewithal for. Education is a sweeping business. And sometimes, the people who are operating them don’t have the basic education. They can not even speak properly. Once he was interviewed by one of the heads. They think that money can buy everything. Some people think that when they have money they are even above manners. Some have that infamous gawp that the whole world has taken a loan from them. Not all the rich, but some. She wrote a letter to her only brother in Singapore so that the boy’s education could be completed. The boy’s elder sister is wedded to a man in the gulf region. And the couple comes only once in two years for a short visit. The brother in Singapore did not reply. Instead, his wife called the neighbour’s house landline. As they did not have a landline phone, the sister in law shouted in the other landline number. She said- ‘Don’t trouble us with your complaints. How old is the boy?’ . ‘Nine’ – She said. “He can work and eat.” The sister in law bawled over the phone. The neighbour is a good lady, a brunette from Innsbruck. She looked at her sympathetically. The neighbour did not say anything. She just took a warm gander. The next week the boy got work in the shoemaker’s shop. His mother was a charwoman. The boy decided. He will work hard and be affluent and do some good activities in life. You know, maybe all the charwoman’s sons can’t become Albert Camus. Still, they all can strive towards excellence on some level. If a puppy can lick and show love to its caretaker, man can beyond question, do better things other than engage in trouble. Yes, man can.