Short Story - The Day of Wonders
Karina was a chatter box. Anytime she found a listener she would talk, talk and talk until the listener found some excuse to get away. She had a lot of friends in the village. Whenever she felt like talking she would go to the house of one of them and talk.
Her chattering was a great fun for other women. Because during the course of her chatter she would often reveal her own family secrets. When she had no news to give she would say imaginary things in such a way that it sounded like truth.
She could hold nothing in her stomach. Karina could not be trusted with any secret. Anything she learnt or heard was relayed to others with a lot of spice added as soon as possible. Some people were very annoyed with this gossiping habit of Karina.
The person most unhappy with chattering of Karina was her husband Andrei. He advised her a hundred times to keep her mouth shut and not to reveal to others their own family matters. But Karina never paid heed to the advice. Whenever Karina got too busy in gossiping she would get late in cooking meals. Andrei would have to eat late at night.
Many a times she often forgot important works. When Andrei returned home he would rebuke her. Karina could do nothing. For her gossiping was like an addiction – A good time pass.
One day, Andrei was ploughing his field. He plough hit something metallic in the ground under. He got alerted. Upon removing soil with his hands, he realised that something made of metal was there. He marked the place.
He worked in the field rest of the day. He didn’t want someone to see him digging in day light. When the evening came and it became dark, he dug up the marked place.
Andrei had found a treasure. There was a metal container filled with diamonds, pearls, gold ornaments and other gems. The container itself was made of gold. Andrei was stunned with joy.
As he prepared to take the treasure home, he suddenly remembered his chattering wife. It was certain that she would tell everyone about the treasure. The whole town would know about it in no time and the king would take away the treasure. Andrei was puzzled about how to keep the treasure safe from his wife’s chattering.
At last, he buried the treasure in a nearby forest. He had thought of a plan. He reached home and told Karina that he wanted to eat pancakes. Andrei asked her to prepare some Karina asked, “is there any reason?’
‘There may be great news…Will tell you later.’ Andrei said mysteriously.
The hint about the great news excited Karina. She was dying to know about it. So, she began preparing pancakes immediately and Andrei started eating. While eating he kept putting pancakes in a bag which he had kept beside him. Karina was surprised at her husband eating so many pancakes.
When Andrei s bag was full of pancakes he announced that he wouldn’t eat any more. Karina said, ‘Now tell me the good news.”
Andrei replied ‘The good news is that today the son of our king is getting married. The whole city is lighted up. I will come back after seeing the city aglitter.”
Andrei picked up the bagful of pancakes and departed. In the market he bought fish and a lot of pastries. Then he went to the jungle and returned after doing what he had planned.
He returned home with a happy face. His wife was waiting for him. He whispered in her ears, “Know what the other good news is? We have got a big treasure. Get ready. We shall bring the treasure home at night.’
Karina got ready in fast time. A little while later they were passing through the trees of the jungle. Suddenly something struck the head of Karina that hung from a branch. She bent her head and tried to catch the thing. Her hands caught a pastry. Karina was very surprised. She screamed. ‘Look here! I got a pastry. It hung from the tree. What a miracle”
Andrei said, “What is miracle in it?’ These are pastry trees. Haven’t you ever seen a pastry tree?’
Karina looked up more surprised. She saw lots of pastries hanging by the branches of the trees. She plucked a few and walked eating the pastries. She remarked, “Today is a day of wonders. We got the treasure. The king’s son is getting married. And I see trees of pastries Wonderful’
“Sure It is indeed a day of wonders,'” Andrei agreed.
A little further ahead Karina found many fish lying on the ground. The ground was wet. Some of the fish were dead and some were flip-flopping. While many of them showed faint signs of life.
Andrei spoke, “It appears that the forest had a rain of fish a little while ago only. Some fish are still alive. We are in a hurry. Otherwise we could have collected some of them for tomorrow’s lunch.’
Karina asked wide eyed, ‘A what! Rain of fish!? Another wonder? What a day of wonders…Today I am seeing wonder after wonder. I had never before heard of rain of fish?
“Really? But it is common thing in the forests. In fact you stay closed up in home. So you know little about the things that happen in the outside world.’
They moved ahead. It was becoming darker. They saw some disc like things growing on the bushes. Karina was puzzled. She examined the things closely. She muttered, “What is this yellowish golden disc?’
She plucked one and exclaimed. ‘Pancake…. So, there are pancake bushes too like those pastry trees. Now I know the forests too are full of wonderful plants.”
Andrei laughed, ’You have learnt a lot about the forests in a single evening. I guess you have seen the pancake bushes for the first time. Isn’t it?”
‘That’s right. Today is the day of wonders. I had never expected so many wonders. What a day…Come, now show me the treasure…” Karina urged.
‘We are about to be there. Look, someone has cast net in the pond. I will see if it just hangs in the water or there is something trapped in it.’
Andrei advanced and pulled up the net. Another wonder waited for Karina. She squealed, ‘A rabbit…. How come? Do rabbits live in water in the forests?’
‘Why not’ the pond is full of rabbits. The treasure is also here. We shall dig it out’, Andrei announced and stopped.
He dug up a spot and brought out the golden chest. He showed the inside treasures to Karina whose eyes were popping out at the sight of the fabulous gems and jewellery.
Andrei filled up the hollow and wrapped the chest in his blanket. Then they returned to their home. By the time they reached home they were very tired. They decided to think about what to do with the treasure next day and went to sleep.
Andrei saw bad dreams about his treasure. He woke up worried to death. He took a sigh of relief when he saw the treasure pot safe. The morning was still a couple of hours away.
Andrei got up quietly and went out with the pot without making any sound. He hid it at a safe hiding place he had thought of. Then he came back and slept.
The morning had progressed a few hours into the day. Andrei was still sleeping. A great noise of voices woke him up.
He got up and found a crowd outside his house. He learnt that the people had come to see his treasure. Karina had gone all over the neighborhood at the very day break to broadcast the news of their finding the treasure. The people had come to see the treasure and to congratulate him.
Andrei announced, “It appears that my stupid wife has seen some dream. She has taken her dream to be a reality, I found no treasure, friends.’
The people went back greatly disappointed. But the rumor spread on and reached to the ears of the king. The king summoned Andrei. Andrei went to the presence of the king. The king asked, “We learn that you have found a great treasure. Where is it?”
“Your Majesty’ I found no treasure. I fail to understand who gave you wrong news’?’ Andrei sounded bewildered.
‘There has got to be something. I have been told that your wife herself informed the people about it,” the king said.
“Please forgive us, sir. My wife is a chatterbox. She says all kinds of nonsense. Please don’t believe her.”
‘No…I would like to hear her myself,” the king insisted. He ordered Andrei to bring his wife to the court next day.
Karina came to the court happily and very excited.
The king questioned, “We hear that you two have found a fabulous treasure.’
“Yes, My lord. That is right. We found that treasure a couple of days ago,” Karina chirped like an excited bird.
The king asked, ‘Where did you find that treasure’ I want to hear it in detail.’
Karina said in a very confident voice. ‘Lord’ That was the day of wonders. Day before yesterday, the day your son. the prince got married. My husband had gone to see the city aglitter.”
The king fell silent. He revealed, “Woman’ I have no son of marriageable age. The prince is just four years old. Try to remember correctly and speak carefully.’
Karina insisted, ‘Lord! We went to get the treasure on the day of wonders when for the first time I saw pastry trees I even ate several pastries.’
The king looked sharply at Karina, ‘Pastry trees’
“Yes Lord! And there was rain of fish in the forest. It was near the pond which is full of rabbits and…”
The king screamed, ‘This is a mad woman! Take her away.’
The soldiers tried to drag her off. Karina was saying loudly, “I tell the truth. We found a golden chest of treasure. It was the day of wonders I also saw bushes of pancakes!’
The soldiers dragged her away. Andrei said to the king. ‘Your Majesty! I had requested you not to believe in what my wife says.’
The king let Andrei go. He sent two of his soldiers to Andrei’s house next day. They asked Karina, “Tell us where did you bury the treasure?”
Karina went to the corner where they had kept the pot the previous night. There was no pot. She looked around but failed to locate it. The soldiers returned to the king.
Andrei had saved his treasure through clever thinking. They lived happily ever after Karina too gave up her habit of gossiping and senseless chattering.