The Gold Watch

Sanku was a low paid worker in a factory. His wages was only one rupee per day. He had a wife and two children in his family. He had to pay loan which was taken from various sources but he was unable to pay it. So, he decided to steal the gold watch of his factory engineer so that he might pay the loan. He was afraid to be punished. Now read in this story what thoughts troubled Sanku after stealing the watch.
      As on many previous nights, Sanku could not get any sleeep hat night. He turned and lossed in his bed, but it was no use… The more he thought, the worse he felt. He closed his eyes and lay on his torn mat, in the darkness. And yet he could see it as clearly as durning the day; deserted office room…when evtryone had gone out for rest or for lunch. The glass window was only partly closed. On one end of the table inside were a few fat volumes, at the other end, a pen, an ink-bottle and so forth, and in between was a gold watch with its gold chain placed on a book.
     Open the window and stretch out your hand about a foot and you can pick it up. Everyone is out for lunch! Nobody will know…………
      Sanku remembered his efforts, his cowardice and his vacillation during the past few days. He had never seen anyone there at the time. And yet, he had been afraid. He had trembled and felt breathless. That was why he had refrained from taking the watch every time.
      It would not do put it off any longer. If he thought any further, he would not be able to do anything. He might even blurt out his intention accidentally from taking the watch every time.
      It would not do to put it off any longer. If he thought any further, he would not be able to do anyhting. He might even blurt out his intention accidentally. So the must take it tomarrow. Suppose he did not?
      Sanku’s thoughts began to linger over the thorny problems of his life. Tomarrow would be the third day of the month. In another three days, he would get his pay-thirteen rupees for thirteen days. He had to pay four and a hlaf rupees for purchases at the store; there would be a balance of eight and a half rupees. He had repaid only five out of the ten rupees he had borrrowed from the Fund the prevoius month to go home for his mother’s death anniversary. Now, he must pay the remaining five rupees with interest at six paisa a rupee a week, At the teashop, he owed over three rupees for two weeks, besides previous arrears amounting to a rupee and a half. He owed over rupees for two weeks. besides previous arrears amounting to a rupee and a half. He owed six rupees to Ali for supplying extra rice. beedis and other odds and ends. One month’s house rent was three rupees. In addition to these sums he had taken samll loans of twelve paise, twnenty-five paise and fifty paise from several people. And his wife had reminded him two days before about the one rupee to be paid to the fish-women. Sanku mentally added up the total amount that he needed.
      What he was going to get was just eight and a half rupees. What he owned was twenty-two rupees thirteen paise. He had other needs too. He had borrowed three in order to buy a waist-chain for the younger child. He had assured her that he would buy it out of his pay that month.
      Sanku’s heart-beat uncontrollably fast. Through his heartbeats, he could hear the harsh voice of the tea-shopowner Kochunni. Ali’s hollow laughter and vulgar words and the irritating talk of Lonappao who was in-charge of the Fund. He felt that they were all surrounding him like rowdy boys, armed with sticks, gathering around a stray dog. What a horrible scene!
     Finding it unbearable, Sanku turned over on his stomach and thought, “I have no alternative but to pick it up tomorrow. Will it not fetch at least twenty rupees? Even fifteen will do ! Fifteen plus eight and half, that is twenty three and a half rupees. It will fetch more than fifteen.” He would be able to pay his debts, and live in peace. A life free from debts! With a felling of relife he drifted into a lihgt sleep.
       It was morning
      “What, are you still asleep?” Sanku’s wife said gentle shaking his shoulders. “It is long after sunrise.” Sanku raised his head at once. His wife picked up the younger child who was crawling up to her, and asked Sanku, “Don’t you have to go to work today?
      “O yes,” he said, and got out of bed.
      He stepped down into the coutyard in a hurry, watching the golden rays of the morning-sun piercing the lush bamboo foliage on the eastern side and brightening the old palmleafthatch. He washed his face and hands as usual, put on his working clothes, and was about to leave for his Factory when his wife said:
      “Listen, you must buy some ointment for the child !” She threw a commanding look at him. Sanku felt that each of the sore on the child’s festering body was staring at him a gruesome way. A moment passed in silence.
      “What sort of ointment?” Sanku asked like a fool.
      “Ointment for the sores,” continued the wife. “You mean you have not seen the sores all over the child’s body!”
      “Yes. How many paise worth of ointment?”
      “At least 13 paise worth. We must apply it for three days at least.”
      “H’m,” Sanku began to walk with bent head.
      “Please,” she called out in a soft voice. Sanku looked back. She spoke gently, “Please bring two ripe bananas when you come back in the evening-the baby starts crying at night-and I have no milk to give him.”
      She stood there pulling up her blouse with her left hand. Then Sanku noticed her belly bulging out! Was yet another burden on the way, Sanku was stunned. He cursed himself, and with a deep sign he resumed his walk to the factory.
      “Listen! Do not forget,” the wife reminded him. Sanku nodded his head and walked on. At once o’clock the bell rang for the interval. Everyone rushed in haste to homes, hotels or tea shops for lunch. Sanku was the only one who did not go anywhere. He stood leaning against a pillar in a corner on the west side of the office. His heart was clouded and brusting with impatience.
      A few moments passed. The engineer, a short, fat Englishman with cat-like eyes, who looked like a marble ststue, got out the room, closed the door, and left. As usual, there was no watch on his wrist! Sanku’s heart felt cool with relief. A few more moment passed, Sanku looked all around; there was nobady in sight.
      He walked towards the office. The galss window, as usual, was only partially closed. The gold watch was on the table. How it glittered! His heart beat faster. The Englishman would return after lunch and his siesta only by four o’clock! A good opportunity! There was nobody around!
     One, two, three…..six or seven minutes passed. Suddenly Sanku thought: suppose someone sees me! As in the few days, fear pushed him forward. He took a few steps, looked around, but saw no one. Prompted again by urgent need he walked towards the room. Once again he looked around. Nobody was there! A shudder passed through his veins; his heart throbbed. One seconnd passed. He stretched out a hand and the gold watch was in it. Nevously his eyes made a quick survey. No one was there at all. Trembling, he put the watch in the pocket of his trousers. He held his breath and walked forward in haste. After about ten steps, he looked back. Then he saw someone walking quickly along the eastem corridor.
      Obviously he was going to the time-keeper’s office. He must have been everything! Perhaps he was hastening to inform the watchman at the gate. Oh God! Had he bungled? Sanku stood like a pillar, petrified.
      The gold  watch seemed to burn his pocket like a burning cinder. It sent sparks along his nerves. The whole world seemed to be spinning around him in a  blazing fire. Flames arose from every particle os sand! No shade of coolness anywhere! Everything was on fire, burning, burning.
      “Brother Sanku, why are you standing here like a pillar?”
      Sanku turned with a start and saw Madhavan standing close by. Sanku stammered out:
      “No reason….for nothing.”
      “Go on my liar !” Madhavan said with a laugh and walked Away to his work. He must, have gone and reported the theft! My God! Everyone probably knew about it… All the eight hundred odd workers at the factory would surround him noisily. They would look at him in scorn. They would all remark with derision: “Thief! Thief!” Then he would be taken before the white boss, and reprimanded. How sternly he would look at him! Sanku would surely be dismissed. The fellow, Vacky, was dismissed just for taking an old umbrella.
      A cold fear entered Sanku’s heart which was choked with depressing thoughts.
      The guard would be waiting at the entrance of the time-keeper’s office. He would catch him. No, that way lay danger. He would put this back in its place; a scorching cinder that was burning him. But then “Oh, no!” he said to himself on second thoughts. But finally he made up his mind. He was at the office room. The window still remained half open! Sanku looked around. No one was there, no one at all! He took the gold watch quickly out of his pocket. His hand trembled like an aspen leaf. He presently remembred his home and his unpaid debts.
      What was to be done? Sanku felt suffocated. The sound of a footstep behind him? Someone was returning! He put the watch on the table and breathlessly walked away.

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