Mushtaque B Barq

Burden

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The morning sun invited one and all, for its face was slowly pushing the long veils of mist beyond the mountain tops. The appeal of the vast Blue was afar to be described in words. It was an unadulterated sensation of enchantment.

“Get up boy”, the shepherd shouted.

Rubbing his dreamy eyes, the boy half-heartedly acts in response, “Let me sleep a bit more.”

“I am leaving, feed the cattle and sip a glass of hot milk and do join me along with your herd on the hills before the leaves dry”, ordered the shepherd.

The boy managed his dreadlocks and opened the much awaited door of the cowshed. He fed the cattle and packed his bag.

His bag was a delight to watch, much different from his counterparts whose backpack had all the stuff required in the classroom. His bag was rather simple. A flute, some coils of ropes, hooks; a broken frame wrapped in a green cloth and a piece of mirror was all that he would carry along with his herd. His father has many a time tried his hand to explore his bag, but the alertness of his son denied the access.

On the way to the hills, he met a school going boy coming down the hills much off colour and broken. The anguish had implanted the saddest shade on his guiltless cheeks, disfiguring his entire façade.

The shepherd boy who was merely mounting the hills stopped. He passed a smile, but there was no response from the other end. The pain had gripped the schoolboy to the extent that smile appeared a far distant dream.

“Hay, why is your sun behind the clouds,” the shepherd boy asked.

The boy with the backpack slowed down his steps and passed a cold expression.

“I am burdened with books, oh! These blocks, they teach nothing but punish and punish”

The shepherd boy only smiled for his own sack was much heavier than the school boy’s bag yet he never protested for the reason there was none to listen to his plight. He was fond of his flute and the mirror which he never forgot to carry along.

“My bag is heavier than yours, yet I carry it gleefully”, the Shepherd boy reacted.

The boy in uniform lowered his bag so did the shepherd boy.

The school bag was comparatively heavier than the sack of the shepherd boy.

“I wish to carry such lighter bag”, the boy in uniform informed.

“Your bag is indeed heavier than mine. You carry a mountain of knowledge on your back that makes it heavier,” the shepherd boy responded.

“Your sack is so light”, the boy in uniform replied.

The shepherd boy sighed. His groaning touched the schoolboy who came a bit close and stared at him.

“How is your bag heavier than me?” the schoolboy asked.

The boy who has seen much in meadows bowed his head. And after a while, he opened his sack. Some coils of ropes, a piece of mirror and hooks he put on the ground. But he hesitantly took the frame wrapped in green cloth out of his sack.

“This frame is heavier than a mountain”, the shepherd boy whispered.

The boy in the uniform only smiled, but realises that this boy carries much of the burden beneath his little breast.

The flute of shepherd boy on the ground arrested the attention of the schoolboy who tried to let his anxious puffs be released through these seven holes, but the harsh and offbeat rush pulled the cheeks of the shepherd boy who slowly let the frame be hidden from view, but the boy in uniform noticed it and before the frame would go back into the sac he snatched it from the shepherd boy.

A layer of green cloth, then a black woolen piece of blanket and finally a white sheet of paper. Behind the white sheet of paper, a sunken face of a lady exposed the plight of a shepherd boy. The boy in uniform passed a warm gaze at the boy and understood how heavy the frame is that carries the picture of a dead mother.

The shepherd boy stood still but the boy in uniform pulled him close to his breast and whispered into his ear. An orphan can understand the burden of the other.

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