26 January, 2021

The Boy’s Cry That Sounds Like A Bleat

Travails rule the life of a shepherd who is in the bondage of a landlord. Celebrated Tamil writer Perumal Murugan revisits his thematic home of caste, class and oppression in this new edition.

Illustration by Sajith Kumar
The Boy’s Cry That Sounds Like A Bleat

Belly is breathless.
‘They’ve caught Tallfellow.’
‘Last night . . .’
‘Where did they find him? Do you know?’

Shorty’s face falls. The last two days had been wonderful and now this. An ineffable sadness steals into his heart. He wants to say something, but finds himself tongue-tied. They must have beaten him up, and badly too. Tallfellow shouldn’t have run away. He could have stayed and confessed, and it wouldn’t have been so bad. They might have even forgiven him. On the other hand…. Who knows? They might have still beaten him to death.

Stonedeaf’s sister Matchbox comes by with a herd of sheep. There is no child on her hip though. She is small and obviously cannot carry that black butterball of a child all day. She looks distracted. Belly yells.

‘Aiy, seen Tallfellow?’

‘None of my business…. There’s a crowd in his Master’s house. I don’t know anything.’




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