It was more than two hours past midnight, yet Ramulu was unable to sleep. He has been a

small scale farmer and the successively failing monsoon and mounting debts were pulling

down his morale. Year after year his hopes were turning into despair and the future was

looking bleak for Ramulu. The money lenders were mounting pressure on him to clear the

debts or to part with his land and house. This year the despair was ravenous on him. In his

despair, he could not think of nothing but ending his existence to get rid of all his financial

problems. At that point of time he forgot about his wife and children. He was tensed up at his

own thoughts and he did not know when he fell asleep. * * * * * Ramulu was dead now! He

hanged himself with a rope to the neem tree in the front yard of his house. In the early

morning listening to the loud cries of Ramulus wife, someone in the neighbourhood have

gathered at Ramulus house and drew his body down from the tree removing the rope from his

neck. He was laid in the front yard of his house on a mat. His body was covered with a white

cloth upto his throat, and long line of thick vermillion was applied on his forehead. Someone

in the neighbourhood has garlanded his body. A few relatives have come to pay homage to

the dead and console the family. Some neighbours have gathered at Ramulus place and

were discussing about the adversities faced by him and the future of the family in his absence

and feeling pity at the entire episode. Ramulus’ wife was weeping continuously, inconsolably.

All tears exhausted, his daughter was resting her head over her mothers shoulder, gazing at

Ramulu’s face, while his son was laying his head in his mothers lap. Suddenly there was an

uproar. A handful of moneylenders have descended on to the scene and started demanding

that the debts owed by Ramulu should be paid immediately, lest they would not allow the

body to be taken for cremation. His wife was aghast at the behaviour of the money lenders.

Her hands folded, she started pleading the lenders to let the body be taken for cremation and

that she would clear their debts at any cost, even by selling her organs. I will take up a job

and support my mother in clearing the debts, his daughter was pleading with the money

lenders. But the lenders were very unkind and they would not relent to their pleadings and

pulled Ramulus’ wife and children away from his body. The family was helpless. Even the

crowd that gathered at Ramulus place also tried to cajole the money lenders to be kind

towards the bereaved family. But the money lenders were indifferent towards the pleadings

and were bent on their demand to allow the body to be taken only after clearing debts. * * * * *

With a jolt, Ramulu woke from sleep. He was profusely sweating now. He was feeling afraid

at the wrath meted at his family in his absence. He could not digest the plight of his family

after him. He was feeling shy now. His wife was willing to forego her organs to set his body

free from the lenders to do the last rites and his daughter was ready to quit her studies to

support her mother! But what did he decide? He became a coward! He decided to leave his

family to lurch! He wanted to escape from the problems leaving his family behind to fend for

themselves. How could he be so mean and selfish, Ramulu was languishing in pain at his

attitude. As Ramulu was lost in his thoughts, the first ray of the sun was descending on to

earth signalling the arrival of a new day and a rooster was roaring now in his backyard. It was

an occasion of awakening for him. With new hopes, Ramulu got down from the bed with his

eyes filled with love for his wife and children to begin a new dawn in life with a strong resolve

not to leave his family to lurch in despair in the time to come.