When I opened my eyes, I saw an old man with white hair, white beard and shining black eyes bending over me. For the next few days, he looked after me, putting food in my mouth and bringing me sweet, cool water from the stream. He rubbed my feet gently and made the pain go away. Neighbours, strangers — everyone came to visit me.
“Tell me, Grandfather”, I said to him one day. “I have never seen people like the villagers here! In my village, people fight with those who pray to another god. But here ... this seems a very strange place!”
“Prem,” replied the old man, “I will tell you the story of Pambupatti. You can take this story back to your village. Maybe it will heal some of its wounds, and dry some of its sores.”
“Oh, Grandfather,” I said anxiously, “don’t say that. What I have seen in my village makes me burn with shame. I never, never want to go back there.”
“But that’s exactly why you must go back,” he said, in a soft voice. I kept quiet. I didn’t want to argue with him, and I wanted to hear his story.
When Prem opened his eyes, he saw an old man with white hair and beard. He is the one who must have saved the author when he fell down. He took complete care on him for the next few days. The old man gave him food and shelter. He also helped him to get rid of his leg pain, by rubbing his legs gently, as, the pain had been formed when the author ran from hundreds of miles away from his village to reach Pambupatti. The neighbours were also equally good, visiting every time. With his treatment, the author slowly recovered. The author was really shocked to see such kind-natured human beings in this place.
Surprised to see such good humans in Pambupatti, the author questioned the old man, expecting a reply for such unity, which is entirely different from his birthplace.
On hearing this question, the old man started to narrate the story of 'Pambupatti', believing it would serve to be a solution for the serious problem in Prem's village and requested him to take it to his village. Prem, on the other hand, felt hesitant to go back to his village. This is because he had a bitter experience over there. Moreover, he wasn't sure of the situation now in his village. Though he thought it would not help the worst situation over there, he started listening to the story. It's due to the fact that Prem didn't like to argue with him, since the old man deserves such respect.
Meanings of difficult words:
Someone who did not know before
To make something healthy again
Any injury that occurs in our body
A cut or weakened area of the body which takes time to heal
Being worried and nervous
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). What Happened to the Reptiles - Zai Whitaker (pp. 33-42). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.