Tell A Tale in 500 Words

If not me, who? By Zuha Belgaumi

A commotion at the municipal corporation compelled the minister to walk towards the entrance.



A lean man, his right earlobe pierced, a shawl covering his neck and shoulders; and a sarong wrapped around his waist, was being shoved.



At the sight of the minister he said, “Sir, I am Sebu a peasant from Phalodi, Rajasthan. I would like to bring to your notice the acute shortage of water in our village." Hearing the word water, he started walking back.



Sebu said, "I do not want another Chinnappa to suffer at the hands of the rich.”



Now, the minister was all ears.



Sebu said, "Yesterday, my neighbor Chinnappa, his wife Chinnamma, and their two-year-old son were on foot visiting his ailing mother. The raised temperature of forty-nine degree Celsius revealed their living condition.



The scorching sun had slowed down Chinnamma's walk, and she told her husband that she is tired. Their son's lips had a white layer of dryness too.



Sighting a huge home, Chinnappa made his family take shelter under a tree and walked towards that house. He peeped through the iron gate and saw an earthen pot. Assured that it will have water, he climbed the boundary wall and jumped in with a small bowl.



As he put the bowl inside the earthen pot, he heard a loud voice - "hold it," Chinnappa turned his head to get a glimpse of that person. Big eyes, and thick mustache, standing next to Chinnappa was a police officer – Ramney. He ordered his subordinates to check what Chinnappa had stolen. Chinnappa told he hadn’t stolen anything, but Ramney ordered five lashes for stealing water.



Chinnappa pleaded for mercy, but his plea fell on deaf ears. He screamed aloud in pain as the first lash fell on his back. Until he came to terms with the reality of the whip, the following lashes tore his shirt apart. His body shivered in pain. Final whip saw bruises on his shoulder and he fell to the ground, breathless.



In a rage, Ramney kicked the earthen pot and the water splashed on the ground. Immediately Chinnappa put his shirt on the ground and his shirt soaked some water.



Ramney ordered the guards to drag Chinnappa out of the bungalow and they obliged. Before the sun's rays could drink up the drops soaked on his shirt, Chinnappa took few steps, limping.



He reached the tree where his family was taking shelter, and squeezed his shirt; few drops of water fell on his son’s lips. The sparkle in his son's eyes made Chinnappa forget Ramney.



As Chinnamma kept her hand on his shoulder, he squirmed. She felt the bruises on his shoulder. He tried to balance himself on his legs but fell on Chinnamma's lap and fainted."



There was a pause. The minister understood why Sebu did not go to the police.



As Sebu walked back limping, the wind blew his shawl and the bruises could not be hidden.


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