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Sunday, 10 January 2016

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 Short Story

A lesson to reform

It was the last Sunday of the month. On Sundays no work will be offered to the workers on the estate. A holiday for them. On this day the workers will attend to their domestic chores. The men will work in their vegetable Gardens. The women will go out to the fields to fetch firewood. Some go to the town to purchase their home needs.

In the evening of the last Sunday a priest from the town church will come to the estate to say Mass in the estate chapel. Rev. Sisters will go to the estate in the morning, teach Catechism to the children and visit Catholic families and prepare them to attend the evening Mass.

Families

Of the fifty families on the estate only about twenty families were Catholics. As time passed some Catholic families left the estate and some were converted to other Christian denominations by the ever marauding fundamentals.

Since Mass was held only once a month, religious activities of the Catholics dwindled. This helped the fundamentalists to dupe the Catholics. They donated sweets, biscuits, clothes and even cash to convert them. Now only about ten Catholic families were on the estate.

Theresamma realising there is Mass in the evening was busy from the morning cleaning her 10'x12' line room. Applying cow dung on the floor. Removing cobwebs and washing the soiled clothes and bathing the children.

Her husband Vedamuthu was not religious. Although not sceptic, for some reason he avoided going to church. But he allowed his wife and children to attend Mass. In fact, Theresamma was originally from a Hindu family. She became a Catholic to marry Vedamuthu after a love affair. Today she is more devoted to the religion than some of the traditional Catholics. She knew all the prayers and taught the children too.

Dress

It was 4.00 p.m. Vedamuthu after a bath put on his new dress and was getting ready to go out. Noticing her husband trying to skip the Mass Theresamma questioned him as to where he was going when there was Mass? "Mass is held only once a month. The priest and Sisters come all the way from the town to say Mass. In fact, the priest wanted to see you", she told him.

Vedamuthu didn't care to listen to her. He always avoided confronting the priest. He was addicted to liquor. He was also a lazy man. He never worked regularly on the estate. He left the house immediately. He accompanied another friend of his and hurried to the village to drink kasippu.

Revenge

Appuhamy from the village was a kasippu distiller and seller. He was distilling kasippu in the jungle to avoid police detection. A rock with a flat surface was his business spot. Most of his customers were estate workers. They drank on credit basis. On the pay day Appuhamy would be present on the spot to collect his dues. Those failed to pay him will be deprived of their drinks. There were occasions such people were assaulted by Appuhamy.

One man who failed to pay for his drinks and was chased away by Appuhamy was waiting to take revenge. On that particular Sunday he informed the police about Appuhamy's kasippu business and the exact spot where the business took place.

The police went in mufti and hid close to the rock. The whole place was overgrown with mana grass. When the customers gathered Appuhamy appeared with cans of kasippu. The police sprang up and surrounded the rock pointing their guns. They warned if anybody tried to escape would be shot. They were all arrested including Vedamuthu. They were taken to the police station along with the cans of kasippu and other distilling implements. Theresamma swooned on hearing the news. They were produced before the magistrate and sentenced to three months imprisonment.

Theresamma went to the prison to see her husband. She told him that if had he listened to her and went to church this misfortune would not have occurred. It is nothing but God's punishment. "See the difficulty I had to undergo due to your drinking habit and you will lose your job as well. At least now give up drinking the poison and reform yourself for the same of our children." Saying so she left the prison with tears running down her cheeks.

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