The Hard Choice

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Is honesty always rewarded? Ramesh finds out when he is faced with a major dilemma.

Submitted: June 22, 2014

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Submitted: June 22, 2014



Ramesh woke up at 5 a.m. He went through his normal morning routine. He didn't feel like going to work today, but he knew he had to. Yesterday afternoon he had consumed the last morsel of food in the house, and his stomach was already rumbling with hunger. To make matters worse, his mother was still in hospital and her condition was deteriorating. He still hadn't come up with enough cash to continue her treatment. No, as much as he felt otherwise, he had to go to work today.

Ramesh pulled out his cart and made his way towards his spot. He liked the spot very much. It was just next to a beautiful park, surrounded by lots of trees and flowers. He loved hearing the birds chirp early in the morning. It was always peaceful there, and people were friendly. But, most importantly, after a nice morning walk, people felt the need for tea. And Ramesh's tea was said to be the best in the area.

Ramesh was initiated into the tea business when he was just five years old. He had watched carefully when his father had made and served tea. Those days, he was only allowed to wash and clean the glasses. Very soon though, his father deemed him capable enough to make tea. Business was going well, and life was good. However, tragedy struck when his father died of a heart attack, leaving Ramesh and his mother to fend for a living. Ramesh took on the role of sole earner with aplomb, and took care of his mother.

His mother never recovered from the shock of his father's death, and this affected her health. Ramesh did all he could to balance his work and his mother's health, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage both on his frail shoulders. It was then only a matter of time before his mother's illness grew enough for her to be admitted to the hospital. The doctors wanted money to start treatment, and that was a commodity which wasn't readily available to him.

Ramesh reached his spot and started his preparations for the day. He set up his container, milk and glasses, and proceeded to make tea. Very soon, he saw people entering the park, starting their exercises. A few of them looked comical, and he always enjoyed watching them make a fool of themselves. A few minutes later, people started coming to his stall, and so the day began.

Ramesh busied himself in making tea and keeping up with the demands. Occasionally, he looked up in search of his favorite customer, Nitin Verma. He was a tall, middle-aged man with a gentle appearance and an ever-smiling face. Ramesh had taken an instant liking to him and felt comfortable in sharing his joys and sorrows with him. Nitin always seemed to find time to talk to him and ask him about his day. He had become like a father figure to Ramesh, someone he looked up to and depended on for advice.

And there he was! Ramesh's eyes lit up when he saw Nitin. He called out:

'Hi, Nitin uncle!'

'Hello, Ramesh. Good Morning! How is everything?'

'Still the same, uncle. Maa's health is getting worse day by day.'

They chatted for a few minutes while Nitin drank his tea.

Time flew for the next few hours. It was now unbearably hot outside. Ramesh was clever enough to realize that people did not need tea around noon. So, he decided to take a break and catch up on some much needed sleep. He was just about to leave for home, when he noticed something lying on the road near his stall. It was a wallet! Ramesh picked it up and opened it. He found an ID card. He gasped when he saw the photo - Nitin Verma! He had dropped his wallet here! 

Ramesh's eyes lit up when he saw the amount of cash inside the wallet. Five-thousand rupees! He had never seen so much money at one place in his entire life. His heart raced. This will be enough to get Maa's treatment started!, he thought happily. Suddenly, a pang of guilt overcame his happiness. I cannot do this to Nitin uncle. He has always been so nice to me. How will I ever forgive myself? Ramesh took the wallet home.

At night, he lay in his bed, clutching the wallet in his hand. He was lost in thought, immersed in dilemma. On one hand, his mother was dying, and if he didn't act soon, he was sure she wouldn't make it. On the other hand, was Nitin, who was an integral part of his life. He had to save his mother, but could not cheat Nitin as well. It was late at night when he had finally decided what he had to do.

The next morning, Ramesh reached his spot, convinced that what he was about to do was the right thing. When he saw Nitin, he called out to him and said:

'Nitin uncle, you dropped your wallet yesterday. Here it is!'

Nitin came over and patted him on the head. He said:

'You are such a good boy! I am proud of you. Thank you so much, Ramesh!'

Ramesh managed a smile, but somehow he didn't feel any better. He knew he had done the right thing. He had been honest. But is honesty always rewarded? What will happen to his mother now? He had a chance to save her, but he had let it go. His mother was going to die. Will he be able to live with himself?

He felt suffocated, and decided to retire early from work. He thought of his mother, and decided to pay her a visit. Will I be able to look her in the eye, knowing what I did and could have done? She would be expecting me to do something. What will I tell her? Tears formed in his eyes and he started weeping.

It took him another twenty minutes to reach the hospital. He made his way to the general ward section where his mother was kept. To his surprise, he couldn't find his mother anywhere. Fear gripped him as he searched the entire ward. Where is she? Where have they taken her? What has happened to her? Ramesh felt helpless. As he was making his way towards the reception, he ran into Dr. Pradhan, his mother's doctor. Ramesh asked him frantically:

'Doctor! I cannot find my mother anywhere! Is she okay? What happened?'

Dr. Pradhan had a smile on his face, as he said:

'Relax, boy. You mother is in the operation theatre. Her treatment has started.'

Ramesh was stunned. What is he saying? How is it possible? He managed to say:


Dr. Pradhan's smile widened:

'The entire amount for the treatment has been paid. A person called Nitin Verma came in today, and paid the whole amount. He said he was your godfather. Don't worry, your mother will be fine.'

Ramesh burst into tears. He couldn't find any more words to say. He wept. He thanked God. He thanked Nitin. He prayed. Through his tears, he realized that honesty is always rewarded. He had made the right choice.

That night, he had his first peaceful sleep in years.

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