Describe how Sher Singh, the boy crossed the two rivers on the way to the hospital in Norah Burke’s short story ‘Journey by Night’.
Norah Burke has given a picture of how the 122 year old boy Sher Singh crossed two rivers taking his ailing brother Kunwar on his back on the way to the hospital.
On reaching on the banks of the first river, he knew that he could easily cross it before the snow-water came flooding down, as it was visibly shallow. When he stepped into the first river, the water was colder than usual, there was an icy edge to it. In the middle, it was deeper. He had to go slowly because of sludge on the stones. He had to make sure not to fall down. The water was almost waist-deep. Perhaps the snow-water was already coming down. However, he finally reached the shore.
Towards the midnight Sher Singh heard the second river ahead of him. The steady roar of flood could be heard from far away. When he reached the shore, he saw that the river foamed and the bridge which he was expecting was not there. But a fierce crest of water showed where it lay, submerged. Then a tree appeared floating with water and broke the bridge altogether. So now, he was thinking how he could cross this river. If he tried to swim, he would have been lost. He thought, “But perhaps among the wreck of the bridge there was a way?”
So, he tied Kunwar with him with a rope which he plaited with grass to make sure they remain together. Then he entered the water just above the wrecked bridge. The river seized them and flattened them against the wreck. At first he could not move, but then he began to trudge holding on to this and that. He was feeling forward in the storm of water for things like split ends of bamboo to hold. Those were sharp enough to disembowel a man, but he had no other way. The flood defeated him, timber banged and bruised him. Moreover, it was so cold that he could hardly keep his hold. Sometimes waves went past and over him. But even in such tough condition, he did not forget his duty. He kept his brother’s head above water and inch by inch he got along. He was “deaf–blinded–frozen–drowned”. “They slipped, they recovered, they clung and gasped in mortal struggle.” When they neared the shore, the river seemed to lose power. They were through.
Thus the boy went on his way showing sheer determination and courage mixed with a sense of responsibility.