His ability | Daily News


His ability

Amaris hailed from a very remote village off Mahiyangana. The people in his village were poor peasants and so was his family. Many eked out a hand to mouth living. Though the village was rich in vegetation, their vegetables were purchased for a song by the rich mudalalis and the cultivators were left high and dry only with a few rupees to hand after having toiled hard in their chenas. His father too worked for some time in their plot but later on leased it to another villager since he was offered a job in a quarry. He thought it was an easy job only to realise that it was not so. Actually, it was a tough job requiring stamina to break hard rock stones.

With the greatest difficulty, Amaris studied up to grade five. He was compelled to quit school to nurse his ailing father who was now a heart patient after working in the quarry. When the quarry owner knew of the man’s ailment he prohibited work for him without giving him his pay or compensation. The men who worked in this field were illiterate and they had no scholar to confide their grievances.

Due to the extreme poverty, many women of the village ventured to middle eastern countries to be employed as domestics. Some returned having earned well whilst a few others were unsuccessful. One or two had met with untimely deaths unable to bear the stress. His young mother too had been fascinated to proceed abroad. Someone had put a notion in her head, that the best source to combat their poverty was to work abroad. A few advised that it was not a good solution but to think twice in view of her invalid husband and child. But, the woman was adamant refusing to change her mind. With this craze, she had left the father and child to fend for themselves, promising to end their poverty soon.

In the first six months, Amaris’ mother had sent them money. She had written that everything was well and there was no cause for worry. But, now for the past three years, there was no intimation. It was now a very long time and he did not show his worry to his father. At times his little mind wondered whether his mother really went abroad.

He had heard many different stories the villagers speak of. That only a handful of hopefuls went abroad whilst other innocents were made pawns to nefarious activities in the country of their origin. Was she in this category, who played her out and what had happened to her was anyone’s guess? He requested an uncle to verify the lapse but nothing materialised. Since they were illiterate they had to bear the worst. Though the boy’s future now looked bleak it took a new turn when he was offered a part-time job at a tinkering shop.

Leaving his father in the morning hours after feeding his breakfast, he helped the mudalali at the tinkering shop. His duties entailed painting the grills and gates that were manufactured. Earning a small fee for the day and a free packet of lunch supplied by his master was a boon for the father and son. With the little money he received, he was able to purchase some nourishment for his father. How glad he felt that he could do something for him. Often he had heard his father pray for his safety. One day Amaris told him, ‘father don’t worry on my behalf, its’ you I am worried of since there is no one by your side when I am away’ said he hugging him. ‘Son, I only get this pain on and off, but you at this little age engaged in a job gives me the pain of mind’ said his father, looking at him sadly. The villagers pitied the stricken father and child that some assisted them with their meals.

Amaris was now twelve years old. During his spare time, he was quick to lay his hands on any newspaper that was bought by his master and thus he was an avid reader and had a good knowledge of current affairs. Every night he apprised his father of information he had gathered during the day. At times he thought of his mother and pitied her but then she had not listened to his cries and pleas. She had ignored them and gone her way. This made him hate her with no forgiveness.

It was the usual practice of the village priest to visit households to bless the sick. On one such occasion when he had visited Amaris’ house his gaze fell upon written papers on the floor. He had been penning short articles. Quick to recognise the child’s intelligence, talent and ability, the priest allowed him to attend the library. He was permitted to read books free of charge. Not only did he improve good reading habits but also excelled in writing too.

After a few years, his father passed away. But, Amaris was never to be left alone, the priest offered him lodging in the temple premises and to be in charge of the library. He quit his job at the tinkering shop and devoted full time at the library. How happy he was to be in the library. He had ample time to read and write.

One day he wrote a story about an orphan. Actually, it was similar to his life that moved the priest very much to tears after reading and the story was commended. ‘Amaris, I see you have extra talent, at your age this story is excellent. You have used good grammar and the paragraphs have been set in style. I am confident that you will win the hearts of many readers. Let’s submit your story to the literary competition’. ‘But, hamuduruvane, is it good, will it be selected’ said he. ‘Remember child, there are no but’s and cant’s’, one must try to gain success, said the priest smiling at him. The following day he was very busy writing his story meticulously and then making a beeline to post it. That night he lay awake for a long time thinking of his late father and then of his story.

A week later, lo! and behold, amongst fifteen entries Amaris’ story was adjudged the best. How pleased he was to receive a certificate. Grateful to his mentor who showed him the way he knelt down with tears in his eyes for the priest’s blessing, who patted the boy with compassion that brought tears to his eyes too. Laying awake for some time, once again he remembered his father. He got ill earning for us and how happy he would have been at his success, alas! this is the life he thought, wiping away a tear.

The achievement he received was his gateway to success. He did not give up his pet hobby and kept on writing. His ability was recognized island-wide and also by a renowned scholar. The new opening for him was when this scholar offered him assistance to further his studies. Thereafter, he wrote many books in various fields. History was his favourite subject. His book depicting the ancestral history of his village sold out very fast that there were two editions. Highlighting necessities for its development and improvements received immediate attention from reputed organizations.

Thereafter many grants were offered. Due to his brainwave, his village developed fast and soon it had a good rail and bus service. New schools were established with a few supermarkets and a luxury bus service was operated.

In appreciation, the villagers constructed a library in Amaris’ name. Now a reputed author, a few of his books were translated into English and Tamil languages.

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