The young man moved angrily out of the room, leaving his old father crouching in front of a half-finished marble statue. He dropped his hands into his laps, and closed his eyes. He began to pray and didn’t even hear the hesitant ‘goodbye’. His son called out from the door.
     “Masterjee!” called Salim, the servant boy, entering the workshop barefooted. He held out a glass of steaming tea in his hand. “Masterjee?” he asked once more, his voice filled with concern.
     The old man looked up. His face was ashen. He looked tired. He called the boy to come closer and motioned him to sit down.
     “Salim,” he said gently, “soon I will be the last stone carver here. All the others would have gone to Agra. There they are turning out cheap candle stands, paperweights and ashtrays by the dozen. They are making money, but they betray our skill, our age old tradition. Now Gopal has also gone. I’ll have to finish this sculpture alone. And with the help of God, I’ll do it, Salim. "I know you will, Masterjee,” the boy answered. “You’ll make many more."
     The old man looked at the orphan boy who had come to work for him five years ago. Drenched to the skin, dressed in tatters, he had begged for shelter during monsoon storm. And had stayed on to work for the old master craftsman. He had grown tall and strong. The old man knew that Salim too would leave him one day.
     He shook his head. ” My strength is waning. I can’t work with the chisel like I used to. Carving takes too long, much too long. Then he straightened up and said with fresh determination, “I’ll have to finish this work. And surely I will.”
     “Yes, you will,” the boy repeated offering his master the glass of tea. “Drink please. It will do you good.” Then he added, “I have to go to the market for an hour or two. But I’ll be back in time to prepare dinner.” The old man nodded. The old man sighed and picked up the chisel and hammer. The cool metal of the tools filled him with happiness and confidence. He loved his work, and didn’t want to change it for any other in the world.
The young man went out of the room in a fit of rage, leaving his old father looking at him in front of a half-finished marble statue. He dropped his hands on his laps and closed his eyes and began to pray without hearing the "goodbye".
"Masterjee", is a Hindi word for the teacher, denoted with respect. It was the servant boy named Salim who called the old man "Masterjee" and entered the workshop barefooted. He brought hot tea for the old man and called out again out of concern. The old man looked at Salim, who had come to the old man to work some five years ago. Salim was totally drenched in the rain and his dress was dirty when he came to the old man in the storm. From that day, he stayed on to help the old master craftsman. Now, he had grown strong and tall. The old man was sure that even Salim would leave him one day.
The old man's face was pale and tired. He gestured the boy to sit down near him. The old man said that soon there would be no one but the old man as the last carver. All the other sculptors would be in Agra. In Agra, they are making a huge number of candle stands, paperweights and ashtrays. They are making a lot of money but not bothered about our skill and old tradition. Now, Gopal, his son has also left for Agra, so the old man has to finish the sculpture by himself. The old man trusted God and told Salim that with the help of God he would finish it. The boy was positive and said that he was sure that the old man would finish the sculpture and make many more as well.
C stone.jpg
Salim with tea.
The old man said that he didn't have the strength anymore to do the chiselling part. Carving took a long time. Then he straightened and started concentrating on his work and he said that he has to finish his work surely. Salim offered the glass of tea. Salim said that the tea would do him good and that he was going to the market for an hour or two. He said that he would be back to prepare dinner. The old man just nodded his head in acceptance and picked up his tools. The touch of the hammer and the chisel made him happy and filled him with confidence. The old man loved his work and he did not want to change it for any other work in this world.
Meanings of difficult words:
Hesitant Unsure, or slow in acting or speaking
Crouching Duck down
AshenVery pale with shock, fear, or illness
DeterminationWill power
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.