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When he could no longer bear the discomfort, Halku gently lifted Jabra and stroking his head, took the dog on his lap. There was a foul odour from Jabra's body, but Halku experienced great comfort in pressing the dog to his body; he felt a warmth that seemed to have been deprived to him for months together! As for Jabra, the dog perhaps thought that this was heaven! Halku did not have even a trace of aversion for the dog. He would have embraced a close friend or a brother in the same way. He did not rue his poverty that had reduced him to this state. No, it was as if this strange friendship had opened all the doors of his soul, and every atom of his body was shining brightly.
At that instant Jabra pricked his ears at the sound of some animal. The affection shown by his master gave him fresh energy that scoffed at the cold breeze. He rose and, coming out of the improvised shelter, started barking. Halku called him several times but Jabra disregarded his master's commands. Jabra ran around the field in great frenzy, barking all the while. The dog, in response to his master's calls, would come to him now and then, but would immediately dart off again. It was some sense of duty which was forcing the dog to behave in that manner.
One more hour passed. It became much colder; the night had started fanning the cold with an icy wind. Halku rose and sat with his knees pressed to his chest and his head buried between his knees. Yet he felt cold. It was as though the blood in his body had frozen; and it was ice that was flowing through his arteries! He looked up at the sky to see how long the night would last. The Great Bear constellation was not even halfway to the highest position in the sky; it is only when the constellation reached its zenith could one be assured of the dawn. Daybreak was still a long way off!
There was a mango orchard just a stone's throw away from Halku's field. The trees had started shedding leaves and there was a pile of leaves in the orchard. Halku decided to gather the dry leaves and burn them to warm himself. If someone sees me gathering the leaves at this hour, they will take me for a ghost, Halku thought to himself. There could be some animal hiding there; but can't give in to fears now, the cold has become unbearable.
He uprooted a few pigeon pea plants from the field and made a broom out of them. Picking up a burning cow dung cake, he then made for the orchard. Jabra came up to Halku and wagged his tail.
Halku told him, "The cold has become unbearable, Jabra. Let's go to the orchard and sweep the leaves into a pile and burn them. After getting warm, we will come back and sleep. There is still a long night ahead of us."
Jabra made some whining sound to express agreement and scampered ahead of Halku to the orchard.
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu