The old man watched stunned. The first wave of shock, fear and anger passed to give way to a feeling of great relief and happiness.
“Hai Ram,” the old man whispered “Hai Ram” and tottered over to the boy. Dropping his hand on his shoulder he said softly, “Salim.”
The startled boy turned and looked up at his master. He rose to his feet clumsily, the hammer and chisel still in his hands.
“Salim,” the old man searched for words. “I...I...I...only wanted to help,” whispered the boy, “I...I’ll learn, if you teach me Masterjee! I have practised secretly for almost two years in the quarry.
“Please tell me! For many years, I wanted to become a sculptor like you yet I fought the feeling. But it proved too strong. I know there is nothing in this world I would like to do more, there is nothing in life that I could do better. I want to become a stonecarver. Will you please teach me, Masterjee?”
The old man pulled the boy’s head against his shoulder and whispered, “There’s nothing I can teach you my son beta. Go ahead. You have it in your hands and in your heart. I know you will be one of the country’s finest stonecarvers.”
At first, he was shocked and angry, but after a few seconds, he was filled with happiness. The old man again said "Hai Ram" and went near the boy with great difficulty and placed his hands on the shoulder and called him out as Salim.
The boy was shocked and looked at his master. He stood up with the tools in his hand. The old man wanted to say something and told Salim when he was interrupted by Salim's words saying that he only wanted to help the old man. He was ready to learn from his masterjee and said the same. He had almost practised for two years in the quarry, secretly.
He pleaded with the old man saying he wanted to be a sculptor and always fought back the wish, but it was overpowering him. He said that this is the only thing he wanted to do and nothing more. He wanted to become a good stone carver if he could teach him.
Salim had practised secretly for almost two years in the quarry!
The old man pulled Salim's head near his shoulder and said that there is nothing he could teach him. He was sure that one day he was going to be one of the greatest stone carvers as he was doing it from his heart and soul and he had it in him.
Meanings of difficult words:
|Clumsily||In an awkward and careless way|
|Tottered||Move in a feeble way|
|Quarry||A deep pit, from which stone is extracted|
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-2 English Standard-7. The Last Stone Carver-Sigrun Srivastav (pp. 109-116). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.