This story is written by Ram Kumar and translated by Alok Bhalla.
A family had come to a hill-station to spend their vacations.
They had booked a cottage with an orchard which had trees laden with cherries.
The children in the family were really excited about the Cherry trees and wanted to pluck them but the problem was that the cherries’ had not ripened.
Moreover, their eldest sister had taught them that plucking raw cherries is a sin and can leave you ill.
None of her younger sisters and brothers could disobey her because she was the eldest and would not punish her siblings by scolding or beating but not talking to them.
The mother of the family was worried about their eldest daughter’s marriage. She used to discuss it with her father for hours.
One day a man came to the orchard and started inspecting the trees.
He had two yellow teeth. He asked the narrator to have him meet his father.
After he left the children ran to their father, curious to ask him about the contractor.
The next day an old man came to guard the trees . He set up a lot of provisions to make his guarding easier. He looked quite friendly.
The children were quite confused at this point of time. They had mixed reactions, they were neither happy nor sad.
After the cherries ripened , the Contractor’s men came and started plucking the cherries in a really harsh manner, which destroyed quite a lot of trees.
A bulbul was also killed in the process.
They plucked all the cherries , put them in cartons, lorries were being loaded continuously with the cartons.
The contractor’s men had left the orchard devastated. There was not even a single cheery left on any of the trees. The orchard looked haunting to the children.
That night, the family talked about the events of the day and the incident with the bulbul.
The elder sister did not even a pay a slight interest to the conversation. She was engrossed in her own thoughts.
The narrator could not go to sleep!
The sky shone brightly with millions of stars.
The stars seemed to be really close to the narrator.
He went further, near to the woods. He realised that his elder sister was walking there too, quite ahead.
He had a conversation with his sister but the sister did not reply back.
Why were the children excited and then soon disappointed on crossing the gate?
Hints – Their previously rented houses didn’t have an orchard – they had one or two kinds of trees – disappointed because none of them could get a fruit – elder sister said the fruits could be poisonous – gave strict orders not to pluck the fruits.
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