Our story begins in the land called
“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.
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.
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
“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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.