Leela’s Friend – R.K.Narayan
Sidda was hanging about the gate at a moment when Mr Sivasanker was standing in the front veranda of his house brooding over the servant problem. “Sir, do you want a servant?” Sidda asked.
“Come in” said Mr Sivasanker. As Sidda opened the gate and came in, Mr Sivasanker subjected him to a scrutiny and said to himself, “Doesn't seem to be a bad sort ... At any rate, the fellow looks tidy.” “Where were you before?” he asked.
Sidda said, “In a bungalow there,” and indicated a vague somewhere, “in the doctor's house.” “What is his name?”. “I don't know master,” Sidda said. “He lives near the market.” “Why did they send you away?” “They left the town, master,” Sidda said, giving the stock reply. Mr Sivasanker was unable to make up his mind. He called his wife. She looked at Sidda and said, “He doesn't seem to me worse than the others we have had.” Leela, their five-year-old daughter, came out, looked at Sidda and gave a cry of joy. “Oh Father!” she said “I like him. Don't send him away. Let us keep him in our house.” And that decided it. Sidda was given two meals a day and four rupees a month, in return for which he washed clothes, tended the garden, ran errands, chopped wood and looked after Leela. “Sidda, come and play!” Leela would cry, and Sidda had to drop any work he might be doing and run to her, as she stood in the front garden with a red ball in her hand. His company made her supremely happy. She flung the ball at him and he flung it back. And then she said, "Now throw the ball into the sky." Sidda clutched the ball, closed his eyes for a second and threw the ball up. When the ball came down again, he said, “Now this has touched the moon and come. You see here a little bit of the moon sticking.” Leela keenly examined the ball for traces of the moon and said, “I don't see it.” “You must be very quick about it,” said Sidda, “because it will all evaporate and go back to the moon. Now hurry up....” He covered the ball tightly...
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