Editor’s Choice: Short Story with Moral Lesson – THE ANNOYED RING
“God is great” said the Junk-Dealer, “a single person and tons of troubles. God is great.”
His sighs broke from his lung time to time. The web of lines appearing on his forehead showed his innumerable worries. His back was leaned as a heavy satchel he had put on.
It was a scorching afternoon—the sun straight to its maximum; the heat produced promised to burn flesh; no one in the garden, no one on the road, no one in the fields but the air everywhere that too, too hot to put up with.
The Junk-Dealer had not to stop; he had to move on as he needed money, as his son under the weather was on dire straits for medication, as Death revolved around his bed.
Every now and then he bent to pick junks if he thought them acceptable howsoever least. As he bent, sweat streamed from his face, fell down on ground, and was absorbed by the soil.
“How sad he is!” said the crushed Water-Bottle inside the satchel to other companions when sensed his continual sighs, “how tired he is! But how grateful to God! He thanks God even for the troubles he’d received.”
Every one in the satchel turned attentive—be it the Tonic-Bottle, be it the torn Page, be it the Broken Bucket or be it the Rusted Iron- Rod—one thing common in all—all titled as ‘Junks’.
“I wish I’d more weight than I have now” the Shampoo-Bottle said, “as to my knowledge, the heavier the Satchel is, the more money he will get.”
“Do you know” in his shaking and heavy voice said the years-old Satchel, hanging by a rope on the Junk-Dealer’s shoulders, “He walks miles but gets only five rupees a day howsoever heavy the satchel is? His Owner seems very cruel, doesn’t he?”
“But why is he mourning?” asked the crushed Water-Bottle.
“His son is in grave sickness and he’s unable to purchase medicines for him” the old Satchel said, “I saw this morning his son’s face pale and body even weaker when he was leaving home. I also saw tears in his wife’s eye. Seems to me like Death has started her countdown.
“When he took me on his back, and was to cross the door his son asked for oranges, but I don’t think he has much money. I have a hole beneath; hundreds of times his wife would have said to bring thread from the market to fix the hole but he doesn’t, as unable to buy the threads, as the Owner gives him only five rupees a day!”
“Could someone have used me to stab the Owner” yelled the angry rusted Dagger without handle; he was irritated as the Vine-Bottle had rebuked him because his sharp edge has scratched the logo “Royal’s Choice” on his body which the Vine-Bottle loved very much.
“God is great” sighed again the Junk-Dealer, “He watches all. He is generous. I hope He will cure my son; He watches all. He can’t let my son die in hunger and fever. He watches my poverty, he watches my honesty; He watches all. God is great.”
“How sad he is!” said the Balm-Container, “had I some balm inside to rub over his shoulders; they might be in pain as we have made this satchel very-very heavy.”
“Had I money inside” said the old torn Wallet, “to pay for medicines for his son. But, the Businessmen’s son was too cruel. As I grew older, his heart filled with hatred for me and one day when his friends made a fun of his for I was torn and too old to be kept in pocket, he inspected all my sections and threw me away having ensured that not a single penny I had inside.”
The Annoyed Ring heard all this silently. The Junk-dealer has picked her up with stacks of torn pages and she had escaped the sight of the Junk-Dealer.
The Ring looked miserable. Though genuinely beautiful, she looked dirty and old as a layer of soil and dust had covered her. She had a heart-shaped diamond in the center which the layer of soil and dust had made invisible.
“Sorrow, sorrow, sorrow, I like sorrow of humans. I want to see how their faces look like when they are sad?” the ring broke into ice as the sympathies of mates made her jealous and consequently compelled her to utter.
Every one in the satchel got startled.
“Ring, are you here in the satchel?” said the Tonic-Bottle “How cruel you are! Beautiful but cruel equally! ”
“Indeed she is.” said the torn Page.
“Very true. Oh Ring, Your heart is as black as my body,” cursed the half burnt Bicycle-Tire.
“Humans deserve sorrow. They are selfish. It is only humans who exploit the nature” said the Annoyed Ring, “They respect you till you are worth use and throw you away when you are used. Tell me O, Water Bottle if I am wrong. ”
The crushed Water-Bottle unlocked his experience and philosophy, “You are right but this is our lot. This is what God has decided for us. Humans too are buried or burnt when Life leaves them.
“Destruction is inevitable and construction follows destruction. Essence, that is, Soul perishes never, perishes just Body. That is what the cycle of the Nature, isn’t that? That is what the rule of God.”
“What thoughts! Absolutely right!” said the broken Bucket with no handle.
“Indeed”, said the rusted Iron- Rod.
“You are right” said another Bottle, “and mind you, humans kiss our head till we have water inside. The level of the water is our span of life. They keep us in cold-stores and they themselves live in warmth. Why to live after water is finished; our purpose is fulfilled?”
It was the mid of June that the Junk-dealer was on the way. The paddy crops had been severed a couple of months ago, and the bare fields lay in wait for Wheat seeds to be sown.
As he crossed those fields, he saw a garden in which boys were playing football.
“Oh old man, throw the ball,” shouted one boy playing when the ball was hit foul and reached near to the Junk-Dealer.
The Junk-Dealer placed his satchel down, picked the ball up and threw. Tired as he was, very hardly could the ball reach to the boys.
“God is great,” said he, “I wish my child should play like them. He should become as living as they are. Ah, but he is on bed. He needs medicines. He has also asked for oranges this morning but it amounts to more than what I am paid and the owner is not going to give me more than five rupees.”
“But I am worth millions, old man” said the Ring inside the satchel, “and I want you see cry. I want to see you mourn as I have mourned” the Ring peeped through the hole and screamed, “But the boys playing seem very cheerful. Why don’t they cry, why aren’t they sad?” She cried even louder, “Oh, Sorrow where do you lie? You sleep all the time, perhaps you have forgotten what your job is.”
“You might be worth millions but worthy for none. You know not how painful it is to lose one’s child, but I do” said the Wrapper of the capsules having all spots empty except one in which laid an expired capsule, “I have seen the child who was defeated by typhoid. The poor child couldn’t take my last capsule. The demise of the child left his mother extremely alone; she wept so much that tears in her eye dried off.
“The child had so much faith in my capsules that when he took it, used to say innocently, “I don’t like your taste but mom says that you will cure me. Then I will play with my friends in the garden!”
“Two years after his departure when she found me behind the books in the almirah, she was driven back in the memories. She lost her self-control and sobbed, “How short your life was and how lengthy my life is. God, you could have chosen me.”
“Oh, how she wailed when she was throwing me away in the litters!
“I love humans for they appreciate capsules which cure them, and for they are thankful and courteous. Why so much hatred for them? Tell me, Oh Ring.”
The Ring said without delay “I hate for I have spent long years among litters. I hate for that was not my lot. I hate for I deserved to be worn in the beautiful hands of the Beloved. Never did I deserve to be thrown in the dust as I was the most precious thing one could have. But she threw me away like a piece of a broken mirror.”
The Ring paused and shed gallons of tears.
“But why did she throw you away, Beauty?” asked the half burnt Bicycle Tire.
Her cry got even louder.
“Tell us the reason. O, don’t soak us, please” said the Torn Page in irritation as he felt moist by her tears.
The Ring sobbed, “He possessed the jewels; all belonged my family. He was the prince, the fondest to the King. In winters while on horse-riding saw the Prince the farmer’s girl feeding the lamb outside her small hut.”
“ ‘Oh, she is pretty. Like a fairy she looks! How soft her gestures are!’ spoke the Prince.
“He came the next day, he came the third day and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth. He used to peep her behind trees everyday.
“So, days passed and arrived the autumn. When she was collecting the fallen leaves, she caught sight of the Prince.
“He told that he loved her and wished to marry her.
“Now, they had their meetings frequent. Their love matured little-by-little and the nature became the witness of it.
“One day he gifted her the precious thing—that was I. He himself put me in her finger and said ‘you are the prettiest girl of the Universe’ and kissed her hand and then her creamy cheeks.
“How beautiful her hands looked with me in her finger! Twinkled I like a star! How happy she was!
“But the Prince after some time gave up visiting her. You could see the pretty girl’s gloomy eyes looking his way from the door, or at the bridge, or under the tree where the Prince kissed her first time.
“Her angst grew as days passed; she had no means to communicate to him; she couldn’t go to the Palace to meet him.
“One day, after a very long period he met her. As she saw him, she burst into tears and embraced him in her arms but before she could say a word the Prince uttered ‘I love you sweetheart but I feel sorry to tell you that I can’t marry you as my father got me married with the Princess of the neighbour-State.”
She felt as if lost her world. She said nothing but just glared the Mango tree whose leaves were falling as snow-fall. The Prince added, “Still I love you, Darling. I will come to you everyday as I love you and you love me, don’t you?’
“She stood mute and the Prince left her. It was absolutely incredible to her.
“It was the evening that she gained her conscience. She cried and cried and cried.
“She threw the bangles; she burnt the silk-sari—she threw away each and every short and small thing that he had gifted her.
“Alas, at last, thrown I was away!
“Climate varied, buried I was in stacks. Raindrops carried the things away at least once in year so I too changed my course with the course of stream. I would have travelled thousands of miles, and crushed by millions of feet, but none lifted me.
“Even the life of the hell would be far better than this one.”
It finished thus.
Every one was silent and felt sorry for the Ring. The Balm container couldn’t resist him and burst into tears.
“Oh Ring, if the Junk-Dealer gets you, he will go to the Jeweller’s, and get money to save his son and you will go to a right place.” The crushed Water-Bottle suggested.
“God is great,” sighed the Junk-Dealer “just half a mile away from the factory. Another day I will finish with just five rupees. God, he never gives me more than five rupees howsoever the satchel is heavy.”
“Just half a mile, Oh Ring, drop yourself through the hole and get to the Junk-Dealer.” pleaded the crushed Bottle.
“Just half miles away, Ring. Make your life purposeful” said the half burnt Bicycle Tire.
“Oh, Ring escape.” The torn Page said.
“No way.” said the Ring, determined.
“Oh, Ring escape.” the Shampoo Bottle said.
“No way.” said the Ring, still determined.
“Oh, Ring escape.” said all.
“No, humans are brute, they are brute.” said the Ring; now she felt her determination collapsing as they forced her.
The Broken Pen of the Poet had kept silent for hours but heard all that happened inside. He never tried to interrupt as he was a little reticent, though uttered eventually. Every one became quiet. His rhythms played:
To you a new life he’s given,
Whose back leaned by the weight,
In his eyes, his son with momentary life livin’,
As very certain is the uncertainty of the fate.”
Finally, collapsed Ring’s determination and said she after self-realization, “Indeed, A new life he has given to me, Hon’ble Pen. I will fall down from the hole to his feet. I won’t let his little son die!”
The Ring immediately released herself pushing her companions and shouting “Here I escape!”
She fell straight down from the hole.
Did the Junk-Dealer notice?
“Mates, the Junk-Dealer couldn’t sense that something has fallen. So…” reported the Rope of the satchel, depressed.
The Junk-Dealer couldn’t see the scene running behind as when the Ring touched the ground she took many short leaps and moved in opposite to the direction of the Junk-Dealer.
“Alas!” exclaimed all with extreme sorrow.
The Junk-Dealer reached the Owner who was ordering his servants to put the junks aside.
As the Junk-Dealer displaced the Rope from his shoulder, the Owner took five rupees out of his pocket. Suddenly, his eyes caught a glimpse his shirt torn at the place where Rope lay and it had made a thick bleeding crease on his the shoulder.
The Owner got stirred!
“How hard you work! How old you look! It is people like you that my factory is a success”, said the Owner, “You deserve to be paid ten times more than what you have been from very today. I don’t know why I declared all this but I know He watches all, He cares for all as He is great.”
“He is certainly great, Sir” said the Junk-Dealer, “Now my son will be fine. He will have oranges. He will play like other boys.” He was overwhelmed; his eyes sparkled and watered.
When the Junk-Dealer reached home, he found his wife standing at the door looking his way.
“Here are the medicines, he will be all right.” He said to his wife and went next to his son, lying on bed, “Wake up, son. Here I have brought some oranges for you.”
“Do you think me asleep, father? I’m not. You know oranges are my favourite”, the son said, sparkled.
“But medicines first, my child” said the mother fondling her son.
When I visited the child after a couple of months I saw him playing in the garden with his mates. He looked healthy and felt better. I also heard father wishing to take him to the Owner to convey gratitude.
As the father and the son were almost to reach the Owner (about half a mile away), the son found something lying on the road. He picked it up and said excitedly, “See father, what have I got? I’ll keep it with me.”
“Looks like a ring, my son, doesn’t it?” the father said.
It was the beautiful Diamond-Ring!
As the Ring covered by dust, and a bit rusted, they could not guess what exactly it was and how precious it was.
The son started playing with the Ring and tried her in his thumb as his figures were too narrow to settle the Ring in. However, he had to apply force to settle the Ring. As he pushed a bit harder, the rusted Ring scraped the gentle skin of the son, the thumb started bleeding.
“Ah! It hurts, father. It hurts. The ring is dangerous. I don’t like it. I won’t keep it with me”, cried the boy and in annoyance tossed the Ring into air. The Ring drifted up enough to pass the road-side to reach the gutter beside.
“Welcome, Oh Beauty” said the dirty black Water of the gutter with a foul smell, “But so far as I know Hell is for devils not for angels, isn’t it?”
“That’s what my lot is. That’s what God has decided for me but I hate….” screamed the Ring and dipped down in the gutter before she could complete.
‘Humans’, for sure, suited best to complete her dismal and phrase: ‘but I hate_____’.