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Path of Brothers

Our story begins in the land called Vavuniya..

“Come back you thief! Stop him! Stop him!” A fat cashier yelled chasing after a young man. The tall thin man was running with a loaf of bread in one hand and an eggplant in the other. Suddenly a whole mob was chasing after this young man. A big man on a bicycle rode up beside the sprinting man and punched him down with one hand.

“Please sir. I only took enough to feed my brother and my mother. None of it was meant for me.” The poor defenseless man yelled trying to stand up after receiving the punch.

“I don’t care if you have to feed god himself. You are never going to steal food from my store. The police are on their way and then you are going to get it.” The fat man said breathing heavily. Suddenly a little boy wearing a black shorts came running from out of the crowd that had assembled around them. The boy had a cricket bat with him. He took four good swings at the fat man’s head.

“Come on anna let’s make a break for it!” he said as he took off into the clearing. The young man quickly grabbed the loaf of bread of the ground and sprinted away with the boy. The crowd was too shocked by the bravery of the boy and some could not stop laughing at the fat man who had been beaten by a mere child.

 

“Whoa! That was a close one. Shiva I am so lucky to have a thumbi like you. Man I thought I was dead meat.” The young man said as he and the little boy safely arrived to a small hut. “Well you’re my anna and I’m your thumbi. If I don’t look after you who will?” Shiva said to his older brother grinning. “Raja! Shiva! Is it you?” an old lady said as she came in through the back door. “Yes mother it is I, Raja.” The young man replied. “Hah! My vision is getting worse everyday. So did you buy the bread I asked you to?” she asked squinting. “Yes amma.” Raja said as he handed her the loaf of bread. “Good! We will have a feast tonight. I’ll go to the backyard and finish cooking the fish. We will have something called “A Fish Burger”” she said as she left through the back door. Shiva sat down and made himself comfortable on the dirt. Raja sat in front of him cross legged. “Raja how many more days are we going to keep lying to amma that we work in the fields and buy food? I fell very guilty.” Shiva said stroking his thick black hair. “As long as we have to. You remember what happened last time amma didn’t have enough food she fainted and could not stand up for two days. We must do what we must. She has done so much for us.” Raja replied as he started drawing in the dirt. They sat silently until it was time for dinner.

“Mmm. Amma that was delicious.” Shiva said as he hugged his mother. “Thank you. Now that you are finished go inside and sleep it is another day tomorrow you know.” She said as she patted Shiva on the back. “Okay.” Shiva said as walked back to the hut. Their mother sighed. “Amma what is wrong?” Raja asked as he studied her face. “The landlord came by today. He is going to sell this hut to rich man who is going to put it up for rent.” She explained. “ So why don’t we just take that rent.” Raja suggested. “His rent price is much too high. At the end of the month we are going to move to a small farm down by the river. This farmer offered to give us work and shelter. Now don’t worry about this. I just thought I’d let you know. Go inside and sleep I’m going to sit here and star gaze for a bit” she said looking at the dark sky. “Goodnight,” Raja said as he went inside. He spread his mat on the dirt floor beside Shiva and lay down on it.

“Do you think the new farmer will be nice?” Shiva said sitting up. “You are not asleep yet? Did you hear what amma and I were talking about?” Raja asked sitting up. “A little bit.” Shiva said scratching the back of his head. “ Well I hope the new farmer is nice. I don’t want you worrying about this. Raja said laying back down. “Raja tomorrow is amma’s birthday. I want to do something special for her.” Shiva said lying down. “We’ll think about it tomorrow.” Raja said closing his eyes. “ Raja what do you think would have happened to us if amma didn’t find us on the streets when we were kids?” Shiva said looking up at the hut’s ceiling. Raja had a feeling that Shiva felt really bad that he never saw their real mother. “We would have been fine. But with amma we are better than fine.” Raja replied. “Do you remember how we met her?” Shiva asked facing Raja. “Certainly. We were outside in the rain by the train tracks. We were soaking wet. You were just a small baby then. In the distance I saw a lady lying down on the floor. I ran to her to find that she was weak from starvation. I took our last slice of bread and gave it to her. She then felt better and brought us to this house. We are very lucky to be here.” Raja explained as he closed his eyes. “Goodnight,” Shiva said as he fell asleep.

 “Wake up Raja! Wake up! Amma is not feeling well. Get up!” Shiva yelled as he shook his brother awake. Raja bolted straight up and ran to his amma’s room. She was lying down breathing heavily. He ran up to her kneeling down to feel her temple. Her temperature was skyrocketing. “Raja! Get away from me. If you stand too close you will get my cold.” She said as she pushed Raja away. “I can feel Yemen coming to get me. I can feel it.” She said as she stared at the ceiling. “Don’t say that you will be fine.” Raja said with tears in his eyes because he knew she was right. Shiva started crying with his face in his hands. “Raja take care of your brother don’t let anything happen to him or you. Do you hear me?” she said as a sudden surge of pain burst through her veins. “Yes,” Raja mumbled just as he saw his amma’s close her eyes and take her last breath.

It was noon. It had been two hours since Raja burned the vessel of his amma on a sacred stone. “ Raja, what are we going to do? We have no money and no place to go.” Shiva said wiping growing tears from his eyes. “Yes we do have a place to go,” Raja said as he held up a slip of paper. “What is that?” Shiva asked reaching over. “It’s that farm amma was talking about. It’s not far,” Raja said handing over the piece of paper. “It’s right by the river.” Shiva said with a small shine of hope in his eyes. “Pack anything we can carry we are going to leave immediately.” Raja said as he got up. They worked for an hour and finally got everything packed. They packed a mat, plates, cups, pieces of paper, a pencil, and a large pot. “Okay, let’s go,” Raja said as headed out the door. “Hold on.” Shiva said as he ran back into the house and came back with a necklace. “Here take this. It’s amma’s only valuable possession,” he said as he handed it over to his brother. The necklace was 24k gold. It was worth a lot. Raja put it in his pocket and left with his brother. Not only were they going to farm they were going to their worst nightmare.

“Well, Well. You came earlier than I expected.” An old farmer greeted them at the gate as Raja and Shiva arrived at the gates. “Where is the old lady?” he asked. “She passed away,” Raja said holding his grief inside. “Well it’s a good thing. She would have just been another mouth to feed on this farm.” The farmer cruelly said. Raja had to hold back Shiva from attacking the man “Well my name is Kuvanayntharan. But to you I am master.” Kuva said smiling evilly at them. He led them to a small shack that was half the size of their old hut. “Welcome home. This is where you will be staying.” Kuva said as he scratched his gray hair. Raja covered Shiva’s mouth with his hand just as Shiva was about to say something nasty. “Thank you.” Raja replied. The farmer turned and walked out. “Thank you! Thank you! You said thank you for this dump. There are holes in the wall. And we have to share the room with rats,” Shiva yelled uncontrollably. “I know it isn’t a palace but we have to make do. We have no choice.”  Raja replied sighing. Shiva knew this was true. “Alright you two get out here!” a voice from outside yelled. They both walked outside. Kavu was waiting for them with his two sons, Ram and Guna. “These are my sons. Guna and Ram. You will from now on be doing their work. They need time to study and feel like their lives mean something,” Kuva said laughing. “ So what are you saying?” Shiva yelled. “Boy you better shut your mouth or I’ll beat you till you are as pulp as a mango,” Kavu threatened. His sons laughed. Kavu’s threat sent a shiver down Shiva’s spine. He had heard of bosses who do cruel things to their workers. Kavu then turned to leave. “Little kid, you are going to sweep the chicken’s pen and big boy you are going to trim the leaves on the mango tree.” Guna said as he turned away. “That is a two man job,” Raja said. “ So what do you want me to do? Listen here, if you don’t work I’ll kick you and your brother out of this farm then you can waste your pathetic lives in a sewer.” Guna said as he and his brother walked away. Raja knew that Guna had the power to what he had just said. So they got to work. They worked till nine at night. They then dragged their weary bodies back to the shack. When they arrived they found two small bowls with gruel waiting for them. “What a liar amma is. She said food and shelter not crap and a dump. Why did she do this to us?” Shiva mindlessly said. Raja raised his hand a slapped Shiva right across the face. “What on earth do you think you are saying? Don’t you ever blame a mishap on amma,” Raja yelled shaking with anger. Shiva knew what he had done was wrong. He slouched down to the floor and ate the gruel. Raja knew that this much food was not enough for Shiva so he emptied his bowl into Shiva’s. “What are you doing?” Shiva asked looking up at his noble brother. “You need it more than I do.” Raja said smiling. He then unwrapped his mat and fell asleep

In the morning Kavu sent Raja out to buy some sodas for his sons. While he was gone Ram got a chance to poke fun at Shiva. When Shiva was dusting the table Ram came in and took a seat. “So loser how’s your pathetic life. Remember that you got to scrub our toilets. Don’t worry when you get there I’ll make sure you have something to scrub.” Ram said laughing. But he didn’t laugh for too long because Shiva dropped the duster and placed a good punch on Ram’s jaw. There was a sickening crack. Shiva had broken Ram’s jaw. Shiva knew he was in trouble so he ran to the shack and picked up his thing and ran to the market to get to his brother. He sprinted like he had never before. He was running through the market when he saw his brother walking. He ran up to him and explained everything. Raja sighed deeply. “I am sorry.” Shiva said dropping his head low. “Don’t be. If I were you I would have done the same thing. Come we must hurry. I found our ticket out of here.” Raja said as he held his brother’s hand and ran to the other side of the market.

They ran until they reached an auto rickshaw station. There they used the money that was given by Kavu to take an auto to the other side of town where rich people lived. “Raja, why are we going here?” Shiva asked uncomfortably. Raja leaned over to pick up his mat. He then slipped out a piece of paper from the edge of the mat. “Here read this.” Raja said handing it over to Shiva. Shiva took it and started reading it. “Two servants wanted! Only needed till end of month. Large pay!” He ended. There was an address written at the bottom of the page but Shiva didn’t bother reading it. Raja then leaned over and tapped the driver on the shoulder. “How much longer till we get there?” Raja asked politely. “Is this a prepaid trip?” The driver asked. “Yes” Raja replied. “Well then you will be there in no time,” The driver grinned as increased the speed on the little auto. In about five minutes they arrived to their destination. “Whoa! We are going to work here?” Shiva asked as he stood amused at the mansion that stood before them. Raja wiped his forehead and picked up their belongings. “Let’s go,” he said as he patted his brother’s back and opened the gate. They then took small steps towards the mansion. Raja could sense the excitement that brewed in Shiva’s spirit. Raja had a good feeling about this place.

            “Hello!” a kind old lady’s face greeted Raja and Shiva at the door. “We are here about the job offer that was posted up in the market,” Raja explained. “Ah, yes come in. Come in don’t be shy. My name is Mary.” The kind old lady said as she ushered them inside. The inside of the mansion was amazing to Shiva’s eyes. There were so many thing that fascinated him in that one room. “I know in the job offer page it said “servants” but believe me you are not going to be servants. More like tour guides. You see my family is coming from Canada. None of them have ever been to Sri Lanka. Only my son Prabhu is familiar with Sri Lanka. All I ask is that you two keep them out of harms way. And don’t worry I will pay you well,” Mary explained as she tapped her feet to the beat of some sacred song being played on the radio. “I understand, but I am not sure if we are the people for the job. We are just simple village people. We are not accustomed to such a rich life.” Raja explained truthfully. “Even better. You are from a village. This is great!  Now you can show my family the real Sri Lanka. The real hard working Sri Lanka.” She said clapping her hands in joy. “Excuse me. But may I see the radio. I have seen one but never operated one,” Shiva said as he walked to a radio playing in the corner of the room. “Of course my dear. Go ahead,” Mary said as she smiled brightly at Shiva. Raja was extremely happy that they were lucky enough to find work with such a wonderful lady.

“They are here! They are here!” Mary said as she looked out the window and saw two autos pull up. Raja quickly followed Mary outside to greet them. There were four people waiting out side. “Donald and Matthew you are finally here!” Mary said as she rushed to greet the little boys of the family. “Here servant boy take this and put it inside,” The mother of the family said as she thrust a suitcase in front of Raja. “Oh no Priya. This is not a servant, this here is your tour guide,” Mary said as she pat Priya on the back. “Mommy!” a man said as he hugged Mary. “Prabhu! Who is “Mommy”? I am amma not “Mommy”,” Mary said smiling at her son. “Sorry Mo..amma. It will take time but I will learn,” Prabhu said reassuringly. “Now where are my little grand children? They were here a minute ago,” Mary, said as she looked around pretending not to notice the two little twin boys that stood in front of her. “Right here!” the boys yelled as they waved. “Oh my! You two big boys are my grandchildren. That cannot be. I thought they were as small as my finger,” Mary said jokingly. “Oh no! I am big Matthew and this is big Donald!” the little boy said pointing to his brother. Raja immediately liked the boys. Suddenly a dog bounded out of the auto. “This is our dog. The twins could not separate from him so we brought him along,” Prabhu explained. Raja smiled then quickly picked up their suitcase and walked inside.

It was teatime and Shiva was playing with the twins. The twins were playing with a game boy. “What is that?” Shiva asked pointing to the device. “It’s a game. You want a try?” Matthew said as he handed the device to Shiva. “What do I do?” Shiva asked. “See the yellow thing eating the blue things. You are the yellow thing. Use the control pad and guide him to eat all the blue things.” Donald explained. Shiva was very amazed at the technology. “This is like a small television in the palm of your hands. And you control what’s going on. Wow!” Shiva said as he handed back the device. They did not know but Raja was watching them. Raja could see the lit up spirit of Shiva. He could see Shiva’s curiosity but there was nothing he could do to help feel happy for him.

“Raja did you see that dog? Wow! That thing gets fed more than any villager. That dog lives a better life than us.” Shiva said smiling as he dropped on the comfortable bed Mary had given them. “Did you hear Prabhu? They have shortened their visit to three days because some important thing in Canada has popped up for them. That means they leave tomorrow! What are we to do?” Raja said as he scratched his pale face. “I have no clue at all anna. Let’s just get to sleep. We will deal with it tomorrow.” Shiva said as he fell asleep. Raja already dealt with it. Tomorrow is when the results show.

“Thank God we are leaving! I can’t take this any longer. No air conditioning or pest control.” Priya said as she walked out of the house to three awaiting autos. “Bye amma, I’ll come back next year. I’ll stay longer next time.” Prabhu said as he got into the first auto. Raja and Shiva sat in the third auto. They were going with them just in case they needed help. It was a long ride to the airport. They paid the driver then they all walked to the boarding gate immediately. “Okay tell mother I said “Sorry,”” Prabhu said as he ushered his family through the gate. “Hold on for a minute sir,” Raja said stopping Prabhu. “Will you take my brother with you?” Raja said. “What!” the confused Prabhu said. “Anna!” Shiva said. Raja kneeled down to be eye to eye with Shiva. “Shiva listen. I bought you a boarding pass and everything. I sold amma’s necklace and paid for everything. Now you can go to Canada and get what you deserve. You can live happily. I found a few of amma’s relatives living in Canada and they are happy to take you in. You can go there and live a happy life. You by those “game boy” and live happily.” Raja explained ending in tears. Shiva could not control it anymore he fell into his brother’s shoulders and wept. He wept a mixture of happiness and sadness. “Mary said I could work for her so don’t worry about me. I will phone you every week okay? Don’t cry you will be fine.” Raja said wiping his tears from his sore eyes. “Will I every see you again?” Shiva asked. “If fate brings us together. Now go. Go!” Raja said as he ushered Shiva to the boarding gate and handed the security guard the boarding pass. “Please sir can you take my brother to this address?” Raja said handing Prabhu a slip of paper. “Don’t worry. I will do everything for him.” He said as he walked through the gate. “Anna! I love you anna. Don’t forget me. Anna!” Shiva yelled from across the gate. “Don’t worry thumbi. I will never forget you. Never!” Raja said as he felt tears run down his eyes. Shiva turned and walked through a wooden door on the other side. He turned and took a glance and smiled at his anna. His brave anna. His loving anna. His hero. Then he closed the door behind him turning to face his future.  Raja knew he had done the right thing by sending his brother to Canada. There he can carry out his dreams. Raja then smiled at the wooden door and turned to walk home with tears of joy for his thumbi. His loving thumbi.

The end