Short Story The Drum – A tale from India

The drum

A tale from India

Once, a poor woman from India had a son. His name was Ravi. She worked hard making bread for rich families. They paid her with a little grain and she and Ravi lived on it. But she never had any money to buy nice things.

One morning she had some grain to sell in the market. When she was leaving, she said to her son, ‘Today we’ll have some money. Do you want something from the market?’ Ravi knew that they had very little money and usually he never asked for anything. But that morning he said, ‘A drum!’

The mother said nothing. She knew that she wouldn’t have enough money for a drum. She went to the market and sold the grain. Then she bought some flour and salt to make bread.

She felt sad that she had nothing for Ravi. So when she saw a piece of wood on the road, she picked it up and brought it home. She was sure that Ravi would find something to do with it.

Ravi didn’t know what to do with it. But he didn’t want to disappoint his mother, so he carried the wood with him when he went to look for his friends. While he was walking along the street, Ravi saw an old woman. She was trying to light a fire, and she was crying.

‘What’s the matter?’ he asked.

‘I need to make bread, but I can’t light this fire. This wood is too wet,’ she replied.

‘I’ve got some dry wood that you can use,’ said Ravi.

The old woman took Ravi’s wood, lit the fire with it, made some bread, and gave a piece of it to Ravi.

Ravi wasn’t hungry. But to say no to the old woman wouldn’t be kind. So he took the bread and walked on. A little later he came to a young woman by the road with a child in her arms. The child was crying loudly. The young woman’s face was tired and sad.

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‘Why is your son crying?’ Ravi asked.

‘He’s hungry and I have nothing to give him,’ the young woman replied.

Ravi gave his piece of bread to the child. ‘Eat this,’ he said.

The little boy stopped crying, took it quickly, ate it, and smiled.

‘Thank you. You’re very kind,’ the mother said. ‘Please take this pot. You’ll think of some way to use it, I’m sure.’

Ravi didn’t know what to do with a pot. But to refuse would be hurtful, so he took it and started walking again.

A little while later, he came to the river, where he saw a man and his wife. They were standing next to some clothes and a pot which lay in pieces on the ground. The man was shouting at his wife, and they were both angry.

‘Why are you shouting at your wife?’ Ravi asked the man.

‘She’s broken our pot,’ he replied.

‘I dropped it. It was a mistake,’ said the wife, crying.

‘Perhaps,’ the man went on, ‘but people pay us to wash their clothes and now we don’t have anything to boil water in.’

Ravi said, ‘Look, I don’t need my pot. Please take that.’

The man and his wife were very happy with their new pot. The man took off his coat. ‘You’ve been very kind. I want to thank you. Please take this coat.’

It was a fine coat, but it was too big for Ravi. He didn’t know what to do. But he didn’t want to disappoint the man, so he took the coat and went on walking along by the river.

After a short time, he came to a bridge, where he saw something strange. A man was sitting on a horse wearing only trousers. He was shivering.

‘What happened?” Ravi asked.

‘I was coming to the city on my horse. Some thieves were waiting on the road. They took everything – my money, shirt, hat, and coat – even my shoes.’

‘Please take my coat,’ said the boy. The man took it.

‘You’re very kind,’ he said. ‘How can I pay you for what you’ve done?’

‘I don’t need paying,’ Ravi replied. ‘I’m happy to help you.’

‘Well,’ said the man. ‘You’ve done a very kind thing. So I want to give you my horse.’

Ravi and his mother didn’t have enough food for a horse at home. But he couldn’t say no to the man. So he took the horse, and went across the bridge to the other side of the river. There he saw some people going to a wedding: a bridegroom, his family and some musicians. They were wearing beautiful clothes. But they were sitting sadly under a tree. ‘Why are you all so sad?’ Ravi asked them.

The bridegroom’s father said, ‘We need a horse for the bridegroom. The man with the horse hasn’t come. And the bridegroom can’t arrive on foot, because everyone will laugh at him. It’s late now, and everybody’s waiting for us.’

‘Please take my horse,’ said Ravi.

‘Are you sure?’ said the bridegroom.

‘Yes,’ said Ravi. ‘I don’t want it.’

So the bridegroom took the horse.

‘You’re very kind. Now we can go to the wedding. But how can I thank you?’

Ravi looked at one of the musicians.

‘Well… perhaps you can give me the drum that your musician is carrying.’

The bridegroom gave some money to the musician, and he took the drum from him and turned to Ravi.

‘Is that all?’ asked the bridegroom.

‘Yes, thank you!’ cried Ravi, taking the drum. And he ran home, beating it all the way.

  • THE END –

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