A bonny dog lifted its skinny head at the rumble of the gate and drooled away as if that one movement took away all the energy it had and it lay curled where it was. The stranger entered the deserted lawn which had by now turned a golden yellow resulted from the years under the beating sun. He was a traveller from distant land, going to places where his dark horse took him, he had a crooked nose, his lower jaw was set at an awkward angle, he had picked it up years ago while saving a rich man The man had died only a month ago. He lifted his hat and looked around at the gate, how long was it he had played around the lawns chasing around his sister, how old was she when she died, tiny drops of tears shone in the bright sunlight and rolled down on his sunburnt skin. He adjusted his glasses and knocked at the door.
A man in mid forties dragged his legs and opened the door, the room was in shambles it had not changed much from the day he had left, The wall had developed more cracks, a old photo frame hung on the wall supported by a thin thread, for a moment he thought that the eyes of bony cheeked girl in the frame was looking at him, he felt a chill go through his bones even under the mid summer sun. The man was now cursing, obviously at the lack of his answer; the voice was still familiar it had not lost a bit of its sheen, in all those years of hardship. He coughed a little and asked if he can come in. At a nod of the man the stranger walked in, he saw an old woman shouting at someone he could not see. He wanted to run to them hold them and tell them he had come back, but the little girl’s eyes came back to him she was staring at him as if looking through him. He wanted to make sure the old couple had not forgotten their son; they had forgiven his crime as a kid. He wanted to surprise them in the morning, tell them that the worries were over.
He opened the bag of gold coins and tossed few coins at the man who had opened the door, and asked if he could get shelter for that night and some water for his thirsty horse tied outside. The old couple were so poor that they couldn’t refuse the offer. He laid there on the cot his mind twirling back.
He was twelve years old and the girl was a year elder, they had just had a heated argument and the boy was very angry with her, she was repeatedly making fun of his jaw, there were kids all around him laughing at him. In his anger he pelted stones at the boys and started hitting the girl, she ran and he chased her; he stopped panting, his thin frame would not carry him further, the girl who was strongly built for her thirteen years stood there and continued her fun at him. The boy held his breath, tears started to roll down his cheeks, he was furious with himself, he was furious with himself. In a fit of anger he rushed at the girl at once and pushed her, for a moment the world stood still ,in his anger and in her happy mood both the kids hadn’t noticed the well. With a loud shriek the girl fell in to the well. The world had turned upside down for the boy, he stood there for a moment and then realising what he had done, he had killed his sister, he could not go home, he feared the whip, and he feared the man who would hold it, his father. That was the moment he had made the decision, he had to run and he ran. In his fear he didn’t hear a loud splash behind
He woke up with a shudder, blood trickling down his neck, he could see three figures lurching on top of him and everything went blank after a moment.
The man had just recovered from the fall from the branch where he was cutting wood , he had lost his balance, he remembered what made him lose his balance ,he did not waste a minute ,he ran in the direction from where the voice came, he could now hear it more clearly ,he then found the well and realised what the voice was, he jumped in saved the girl, it was only after he got her on to the bank he recognized her ,it was his daughter, he thanked the God for his good fortune.
The day turned in to dusk, the lady was worried, her husband was never late to come home and this day he had taken his kids with him and then she saw the light of the lantern at the distance, she muttered loud and went in to the house to get the dinner ready. Once the husband arrived she learnt what had happened, they waited the whole night and then the day after but the boy never returned and the girl could not recollect what had happened, they thought he was dead.
The village was hit by a severe drought ,food became hard to come by ,people travelled as far as a hundred kilometres to get some work and buy food, years started to roll by. Then one day a stranger knocked at their door. He opened a bag of gold and tossed a few coins at him asking for some food they looked at the bag of gold he was carrying with him. He called the stranger in and fed him.
They hated to do this, the stranger reminded him of his long lost son, but then wasn’t he dead, he had to feed his family, he had to survive the famine, it was then he decided that the stranger should die, he then entered the room the stranger was sleeping with his back facing the old man, with one swift motion the old man and his family plunged their knifes in his back. They buried the stranger, in the light of the moon with the hat gone from his face, the old man saw the crooked nose, No ! he thought this could not be his son, how could he be ; wasn’t he dead, a small breeze came through the broken window pane ,there near the bag of treasure lay a crumpled, time bitten photograph of the family, a boy with crooked nose was looking at the family with an innocent laughter.