Ulrica Dias

The Tragedy of Hundred Rupees

Chotu was nine years old. His parents were construction workers and could barely afford to support their four children. They lived in a canvas shack on their current construction site. Chotu, being the eldest would have to get a job. is
 
 
The nearest property to the construction site was a shady tea stall that supplied tea at a nominal price to all the blue collared workers around. Chotu’s father was delighted when Mohan, the owner of the tea stall approached him. Mohan said he would pay them three hundred rupees a month if Chotu would help him in delivering tea. He also said that if Chotu could learn to prepare the tea, he would pay him an additional hundred rupees per month. Chotu’s parents accepted, grateful for the extra money.
 
Chotu spilled some tea and broke a glass on his second day and got a warning from Mohan. However, he was a bright boy and quickly got the hang of the job. After a month, Mohan told him “From tomorrow, you are going to start preparing the tea”. Mohan had no intention of paying the extra hundred rupees to the boy. He simply wanted to use Chotu so that he, Mohan, would have less work to do.
 
Chotu was extremely excited. He told his parents that starting next month, they would be getting an extra hundred rupees. They were happy but his mother, like all mothers, rich or poor was a little worried. “Be careful you don’t get burned, beta” she said. “I won’t “Chotu replied confidently.
 
It was Mohan’s day off. Chotu had been preparing the tea for almost a month when a group of young ruffians came up asked him the price of a cup. “Five rupees” he replied. “Can’t you give it to us for three rupees” asked the tattooed leader of the group. “No, five rupees” Chotu said firmly. “Shut up, you little bastard”, said the leader. He caught hold of Raju’s shirt and in the process dunked him to the boiling vessel of tea between them.“That should teach you a lesson” another ruffian said and walked off.
 
Chotu was lying there for almost an hour shouting ‘Aag laaga” which in Hindi means “I have got burned.” Several rickshaws and cars passed by but as is typical in Mumbai, nobody wanted to get involved. Finally, a Good Samaritan took him to a nearby government hospital but it was too late. The boy had suffered third degree burns and died in the night.
 
When his parents heard the news, his father’s only comment was “Now, we will have to send Raju to the stall”. Raju was their second son, aged seven

 

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Published on e-Stories.org on 10.03.2012.

 

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