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The Boy with One Eye

"If someone calls you insane or dissident or strange, it is just that they are half blind"

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Once, a boy was asked by his mother, what he wanted to become in his life.

He said—a writer.

The mother laughed. But seeing the boy’s expressions firm and eyes in flames, she said;

“Well, you sure, that is what you want to do? Writers are all insane. They always smoke and drink. They live with many women. They are nasty creatures and governments hunt them.”

The boy looked sad. And he said nothing in return.

He decided to spend some time with himself, to tell himself how important it is to look sane in front of others, how important it is to keep him away from smoking, drinking alcohol, and also how important it is to be in obeisance with the governments.

Suddenly he had a realization. And he went outside the house. He took a shovel and started removing soil to dig a hole in the ground.

The mother heard him doing the dig. She came out from the place she occupied almost every minute of her life—their kitchen. She was smelling of smoke and fried coconut and cooked rice. That was how she always smelt like.

The boy knew the mother was behind him now. No matter what, he decided to go on with the digging. He knew what he was doing was important.

Today his mother had told him the same thing, but in greater detail and magnitude, that his father had always warned him of. Or perhaps his father’s words too had carried the same sense and depth. But the boy had never even bothered to think about those words.

Now, his mother and father had told him the same thing about being a writer.

He loved his mother very much and thought that she is the one person in the whole world who understood him. He never tested it, though. Who can test love? Love, is understanding too, isn’t it?

As thoughts crowded his mind, the boy forgot about the package that rested beside him.

The boy was shaken from thoughts by the rustling sound of the plastic bag. His mother was looking into it. She took out a bundle of neatly kept papers from inside. The boy saw this and moved faster towards her, blushing.

“Those are mine. They are stupid things, momma. Don’t look into them. Please, Momma, please...”

The boy’s mother, without listening to him, started reading the manuscript. The first page had a lot of lines written on them, the first of which read;

“There is a place somewhere, where all dreams come true and all mothers are happy about their children.”

The boy stood beside his mother and stared into her face and hands that shivered as she hovered from page to page. It was a story of a young boy, who lived in a village in the Himalaya.

One day a young girl was seen in the village. She was blind. No one knew where she came from or where she went. All they knew was that she was a stranger and all strangers are to be suspected. So they suspected her. Only the boy talked with her, played with her in the woods and visited the snow covered valleys covered in the shadows of giant mountains.

The boy’s parents reprimanded him for spending so much time with a stranger. But the boy still sneaked out to meet her. Good friends were they.

One day, giving a terrible shock to his parents, the boy came back with only one eye on his face. The place where his left eye had been was now a dark hole. His mother fell down unconscious from the shock of seeing this. And his father ran out to fetch the village doctor, who was a famous medical practitioner from Cannanore, the south of India.

“How did this happen?” The doctor asked.

“I shared my eyes with the girl in the woods. She could not see anything. She was blind. I wanted to reduce her pain,” the boy said.

“Who helped you do this?” The doctor was clearly astonished.

“The witch in the mountains.” The boy looked at the doctor with his right eye. “It’s not painful, I like it,” the boy said.

“But, why did you do this? Don’t you know you will remain half blind for the rest of your life?” This time it was the boy’s father. He was so petrified that his face was almost red.

“But…father…now, she could see the world. She can do what she loves doing. She is happy.” The boy started crying. And they left him alone. There was nothing they could do anymore. They were scared to go to the witch in the mountains too.

Days and months passed by and winter set in. That year it was the worst.

The usual blankets and sweaters could not keep the people warm. One by one, they all started freezing in the snow to death.

But right then, in the village square, a one-eyed girl appeared. She could see with only her left eye. Her right eye was sewn shut with the threads of silk.

She had a bag in which she carried cloths. There was a young boy who helped her carry those bags. The boy was half blind too, with his left eye replaced by a dark hole.

“I wove these blankets and sweaters; they will help you from cold,” she said to every passerby pointing at the sweaters and blankets. One of the curious villagers an old beggar, who did not have enough clothes to put on and was hiding behind a heap of papers and rags to save himself from the snow, came forward. He tried one of the sweaters and started dancing around, glad that he no longer felt cold and miserable.

Soon, people started swarming in for the magic sweaters. There was one more speciality; the cloths were free of cost. Finally, the village elder came in to meet the girl. He was accompanied by the doctor.

“You saved the village. We are grateful to you, little girl. What do you want in return? We can give anything,” the elder said.

The girl was shy. But she moved forward, holding the hand of the boy. It was the same boy who shared his one eye with the girl in the mountains, the doctor identified. So this is the girl? He was so surprised.

The girl said,

“You have given me everything, already.”

The village elder looked at his companion, the doctor, confused.

She continued,

“My friend here has already given me the gift of seeing. He exchanged partial blindness and gifted me with partial sight. It is only because of that, now I am able to weave this magical clothing for you. I knew this from my mother. But I could never make clothes because I was born blind.”


The next page was blank. The mother’s eyes hovered over the pale surface for more on the story. But no, it was blank. She looked up from the page and then at the boy.

The boy looked at his mother, shovel still in hand. There was a teardrop in the corner of her eye. And he felt sad too, because he thought, perhaps something in the story had made her worry.

“Momma, I was digging a hole here, to bury them all. I won’t write stories any more. I promise. Please don’t tell father, that I kept these with me all these days…these stories.”

The boy placed his shovel on the ground and asked his mother for the plastic bag.

“No, wait…”

The mother moved her hand with the bag away from the boy.

“The winter is coming and it will be worse. We need some magic my dear, some real magic.”

The boy could not understand the meaning of her words.

“Even if they think you insane, even if they accuse you of treason, of being heartless or obscure, why don’t you do what you love doing? Why don’t you keep writing?” There was a smile on her face when she said this.

“I heard about a story of a young man who lived in a distant land, long ago. He was called a betrayer by the government. But all he did was teaching his fellow people to love their neighbours as they love themselves.”

Much of what his mother said was beyond the boy’s understanding. But he was surprised that his mother knew many things she never told him before.

She helped him cover the hole with the shovel. Dust flew all over and the hole was covered, but without the plastic bag or the stories inside it.

“Can you do me a favour?” the mother asked.

The boy did not say anything though. He was suspecting her to ask him burn his stories, as the hole was covered up, now, and there was no chance to bury them. Mother was smiling again.

“Can you tell me where that little girl came from and what is the story of her mother?”

And she winked at him.

Written by Anulal
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