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All of a sudden, Jabra let out a stream of barks and ran towards the field. Halku got the impression that a herd of animals had entered his field. It was perhaps a herd of Nilgais. Halku could clearly hear the sounds they were making. Then he could hear them eating the crops in the field. "Chop-chop", the sound was easy to distinguish.

But Halku did not want to believe his ears. "No. With Jabra around, no animal would dare to enter the field," he said to himself. "I am only imagining things. There is no sound now. I cannot hear a thing."

He called out aloud, "Jabra, Jabra."

But Jabra kept barking and did not come to Halku.

Then, yet again, Halku could hear the sound of chomping coming from the field. This time, Halku could not deceive himself. He did not wish to leave the orchard; he was feeling so comfortable. He felt it would be foolish to go to the field in such cold to chase away the animals. He did not move.

He yelled at the top of his voice to scare away the animals. "Liho-liho! Liho!!"

Jabra once again let out a stream of barks. The animals were grazing. The crops were ready for harvesting. It was such a good field; but these bad animals were destroying the crops.

Halku got up with grim determination now and walked a few steps. But a sudden cold blast, like a scorpion's sting, hit him and he returned back to the dying bonfire. He stoked the embers and began warming his cold body.

Jabra was barking his head off; the nilgais were destroying the crops; and Halku sat peacefully by the dying bonfire. Lethargy, like a rope, had bound him tight.

After some time, he covered himself with the shawl and lying down by the side of the ashes, fell asleep.

When he rose in the morning, there was bright sunshine all around and Munni was saying, "Aren't you going to wake up today? You are sleeping here, and there the entire field has been destroyed.

Halku got up and asked, "Are you coming from the field?"

Munni said, "Yes, the entire field is in ruins. How can anyone sleep so soundly! What has been the use of your staying up in the field?"

Halku pretended to be sick. "I almost died, and all you can think of is your field. I had such a severe stomach ache - only I know how dreadful it was!"

Both of them went to the field and saw it was completely destroyed. Jabra was lying under the cot fast asleep, as if he had no life in him.

Both of them were looking at the destruction. Munni was downcast and there was a gloomy expression on her face, but Halku seemed to be happy.

Munni, her voice filled with concern, said, "Now you will have to pay up the land tax through your labours."

But Halku was happy. A smile lit up his face as he replied, "At least, I don't have to sleep out here in the cold anymore."

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  • 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