Change – A Short Story


Vish sat on the wall that separated land from the ocean. It was a wide wall, and he sat dangling his feet towards the water.

He had a job in the docks, a small job that paid for his food and rent, but little else.

He sat munching on his sandwich, weighed down by a feeling of hopelessness. This week would be his last one on this job. He was a temporary hire for the busy season.

Seagulls swayed and danced above, around the water; the water itself, blue and timeless, a mute spectator to his melancholic mood.

He felt bitter as he looked at the busy port, and the hundreds of people who worked there. Was there no job in this big place for him?

He had stopped with high school and had joined his uncle’s business as a tailor. He had learnt on the job and come to love the satisfaction of sewing a beautiful frock or suit or trouser to perfection. He was in his early twenties when his uncle passed away and the tailoring shop had to be closed.

From then on it had been this way, one temporary job after another, where one just followed instructions.

The loud blare, as a ship left the docks brought him out of his reverie; the pain intense, as he contemplated the next week.

He had to start all over again. His money would soon run out and he had to find something quickly.

He finished his lunch and walked back, to the mundane task of dragging cartons up and down, only stopping for tea and coffee breaks.

That weekend he was set free, nobody expected him to report for duty, nobody believed he could be of any use, nobody knew or cared if he had had a decent meal. His mom lived in her village, content with the few dollars she made as a domestic help.

As he walked back and forth on the high street, checking if anybody was hiring shop assistants or anything else, he heard three women talking animatedly as they waited to cross the traffic signal. They were quite loud, and he heard one of them talking about their children’s costumes for a play that had to be altered by the evening, and their desperation that no tailor was willing to take on this rush job.

He decided that he had allowed life to slip by thus far, without focus.

Before he could stop himself, he had gone up and told the ladies that he could do it for them but for the fact that he had nothing, no support, no infrastructure, no money, absolutely nothing, except the skill to alter the costumes.

The ladies looked at each other incredulously. One of them saw his face; and couldn’t quite place the expression on it – hope, resolve, grit? She couldn’t really say. On a whim, she said, “I have a sewing machine at home, will you do it?”

Three hours later, he had managed to complete the job to perfection, leaving three very happy moms behind. They had compensated him well and had given him a warm meal.

As he walked home, for the first time in years, he felt that maybe things would work out for him. He just had to wait for the right opportunities and seize them.

A couple of days later as he poured through the newspaper, circling the Jobs Vacant section, his phone rang.

The voice said, “Mr.Vish?”

He said, “Yes.”

“We are calling from the Little Flower Nursery School, we were given your contact by Mrs.Samuel, who spoke highly of your skills in tailoring. We have our annual school concert coming up and would like you to sew the costumes. Could you please come and meet us?” the voice said.

Unexpected


The small town nestled in the hills, beautiful and green. Numerous small roads snaked their way across it; either going uphill or downhill.  Most houses were on small hills or hillocks.

The town council had recently appointed a new postmaster, who had been given the official quarters of the postal department – a rambling house with a huge living room, a kitchen and many bedrooms. The postmaster’s family settled down in the new home, happy, except for the fact that they had no neighbours in the vicinity. Their house stood, all by itself, on top of a hill; which had come to be called ‘Post Hill’.

The postmaster and his wife had four children. The children kept each other company in the big house, when they were not at school.

Outside their house stood an old silver oak tree. The locals told the postmaster’s wife that it was more than 50 years old.

The tree had grown quite close to the house and the postmaster feared that it would fall on their home, or its branches hurt his children, especially during the monsoon season. He had spoken to the Forestry Department to see if they could uproot it and replant it elsewhere or chop it down. They had promised to revert soon.

That year, the Monsoons set in early, and the town witnessed one of its worst rainy seasons ever. The Sun had been forced to take a long holiday.

On one such evening, heavy rains lashed across the town, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Heavy winds howled across the hills.

Most people were safely tucked-in indoors, keeping themselves warm and well fed!

At about eleven p.m. that night, a huge bolt of lightning fell on the town, and as many people recalled later, they saw it falling on Post Hill. The people worried about the postmaster and his family.

The rain spent itself by 6 am in the morning, as people ran to see what had happened, fearing the worst.

But when they reached Post Hill, they were happy to see the postmaster and his family safe and sound. They were amazed to see that the Silver Oak tree had been split into two by the bolt, and had fallen away from the house, saving its residents.

P.S: This is a true incident that happened to my paternal grandfather’s family, many decades ago!