SAHIR’S NEW FRIEND
It was the end of the summer holidays; time to go back to school. Sahir was excited! A new class, a new class teacher, maybe new friends as well. Packing his new bag, a bigger one than the one he had last year, he rushed down to get his tiffin ready. A new water bottle was standing, all filled up, on the kitchen counter. Sliding it into place in the pocket created specially for it, he placed the tiffin in a separate section inside the bag before zipping it shut.
The rains had begun a week ago so the pathway was full of patches of red mud. Sahir stepped carefully over them and made his way to the gate. Just as he was about to open it and step out into the lane, he heard a loud honk.
Startled, Sahir turned his head and saw a huge truck with red stones coming down the lane. He waited to see where it was heading. It stopped at a vacant plot, three houses away from his. A thin lanky man with a French beard got down and beckoned to the driver to back the truck into that plot. Just then, Sahir’s mother called out, “Sahir, beta, get going or you’ll miss the bus.” How Sahir would have loved to wait and watch the fun. SIGH! But he had to go to school.
When Sahir returned home, the truck was still there. Hurriedly gobbling up his lunch and dessert, Sahir washed his hands and yelled out to his mother, ‘Mama, I’m just going to Aunty Martha’s house.” He made his way quickly to the vacant plot. The thin man was gesticulating in a loud voice, urging the workers to hurry with the unloading. Sahir walked boldly up to him and said, “Hello, Uncle. My name is Sahir. I live in that house over there. Are you building a new house?” The man turned to Sahir with a broad smile as he replied, “My name is Miguel. Miguel Fernandes. And yes, I am building a new house. Got fed up of living in a poky flat in the city. Here it’s so much more peaceful and you can feel one with nature, yes?” Sahir agreed wholeheartedly because he too had lived in a city once and had hated it. “Uncle, what kind of house are you going to build? A small one or a big one? Will it have many rooms? Are you going to dig a well?”
Uncle Miguel let out a loud guffaw at the young boy’s rapid-fire questions. He said, “Come here, boy. Let me show you what I’ve planned. See, here is the old well which I am going to clean and build a wall around for safety. I intend to let the rain water from my rooftop flow into it. I also plan to send some of the rainwater into a tank to store for emergency. When water is scarce, I can use it for kitchen and sanitary purposes. Isn’t that a cool idea? Besides, the tank will be adjacent to one of the rooms downstairs and will help keep that room cool.”
Sahir was amazed at Uncle Miguel’s answer. He had never heard of anyone doing such things. Was the man mad, he wondered? Seeing the boy’s worried expression, Uncle Miguel beckoned him to the storeroom erected at the back of the property. Inside, Sahir saw a strange looking gadget. It looked like an artificial satellite! “Are you a scientist?” Sahir asked, awed by what he had seen. “In a way, yes.” replied the environmentalist. “What you saw inside is nothing but a solar water heater. I will install it on my roof and it will capture the sun’s heat and store it for me. When I need to make water hot for a bath, I can use that heat without any electricity. What do you think of that?”
Sahir thought it was strange because no one in the village had ever done it before. But he recalled the words of his class teacher. “In life, one must always strive to do the extraordinary in ordinary ways. If you can do a small deed with much love, it is a great thing!” He realized that Uncle Miguel was doing his small deed for the world he lived in by planning his house with so much love for the environment.
“Uncle, will you be my friend?” blurted out the little boy. “My mother always tells me that I must make friends with those who care about others. Will you, will you be my friend?” Uncle Miguel smiled and nodded his head. “Done, boy. From today you and are buddies. Now take me to meet your mother. I can see that I am going to have a great time living here and teaching you how to care for your environment.” (810 words)
Printed on Sept 24 in Young Buzz Pinks & Blues Section.