Story by Anil Chandra
The Mountain Trail was a great read- a beautiful one in fact. The first paragraph had me hooked deep into the story. A life of a fourteen year old has never appeased me until now. It sparks such an interest and fascination in my heart, no words can amount to that. Such bravery and power of the unseen radiating from a boy so young and blind too, has left me utterly speechless.
This is an inspiring story about Sukhram, a 14 year old Indian boy, who herds his father’s goats on their farm which is no ordinary feat for a boy his age. The fact that he is blind intrigues the reader. The writer has done an amazing job; the narrative is actually very interesting and depressing at the same time. The story ended with me mopping at my tears. Since he is blind, his other senses are extremely high and active. His sense of touch, hearing and smell are alive, enabling him to perform such a task as herding the goats. He felt the sun’s heat, the sand, the stones, and the grass through his feet. He could take into notice the smallest of things an average person will not. He could smell things and touch things. He listened to the ‘little rustlings in the grass’ which he considered was beautiful. We hear his thoughts, embedding deep in our own. He knew people pitied him, yet he didn’t care. Such bravery, such faith. A blind boy, his world dressed forever in black, thought his drab world was worth envying for once people knew what he could hear and touch and feel.
This sure is bliss. Sukhram was happy living the way he was. He needed not the sense of sight to feel that sort of happiness. He knew each of his father’s goats by the sound of their hoofs and their smell. For him, it was quite easy to herd goats even though he had no sight. He would play the flute and all the goats would follow him around. To him, his world was complete and flawless. Until that night when his brother and father joined the army for war against the British, he was satisfied with his life. After their departure, his mother packed up her belongings and they moved to their Grandfather’s house where they would be safe from the war. This was a sudden change to his lifestyle for he had grown accustomed to his father’s land and goats. For a blind person like Sukhram, this was major news. He was afraid he’d not get used to his Grandfather’s land which seemed forlorn to him. He felt he’d be a stranger there, realizing the seriousness of his disability for the very first time. As a result he started to feel scared and useless for all the men, old and young, had gone to fight in the war and yet he could not. Days passed and Sukhram’s brother soon came back to take him to their army. The leader of the village informed him that there is a goat track that no one could see in the dark of the night or climb, but there was only one person in the whole village who knew the path like the back of his hand. That person was Sukhram. He was flabbergasted. We see the change in his character here. At first, Sukhram was realizing his disability and felt reckless and useless in his life yet now, the leader of the army stood before him, wanting the help of a boy- a blind one, in fact- to lead his army up the mountain. The English were fighting to kill and the Villagers wanted to defeat them so they devised a plan. They would climb up the track so that they surround the English when the war begins. Sine it was dark, and time was running out they put their hopes in Sukhram, believing he’d lead them up the track.
Sukhram felt happy and confident once again, for he knew his land better than the rest. He knew every turn and path, for he grazed his goats here. Sukhram’s father didn’t like the idea of his son coming up the steep hill everyday. Sukhram’s confident answer made him consider otherwise. Sukhram began to lead them up the mountain trail. His feet knew every rock, stone and path. He even recognized some of the scents of the mountain up there. Leading the army of grown men and full sighted boys, Sukhram felt as if he was the only one who could see. Perhaps it was because it was dark, he thought. He felt as if he was the only person who could see just because he was blind and the others were not. His disability was turned into ability, an advantage. He led the army to victory. The villagers battled with the English with high spirits and true gallantry, thus winning the fight. The leader of the village thanked Sukhram for his help. He said they would never have faced that climb if it had not been for him. He also concluded with a handshake that even if his army could see, they would not have been able to climb that goat track. All the villagers hugged him and thanked him with teary eyes. They vowed there will be ballads of him in the future, about the gallantry he showed that night. An old man concluded that this was the will of God that that he let them up the mountain trail and Sukhram thought silently that it certainly would have been for he had never gone up the mountain trail before. His goats had gone up the track; he knew that for sure as he could feel their foothold in the rocks. Before that night, Sukhram had never dared to go up to the top of the mountain, until now.
In short, the plot of the story revolves around a blind Indian boy who feels he is useless to the world because of his disability. Then come the year 1857 when Hindustanis rebel against the British East India Company’s rule. The British launch an attack on the small village of Tantia Tope and Sukhram, a 14 year old boy, leads his village’s army up a steep hill, a goat track where his goats graze every day. This changes the course of the battle and the Villagers win the fight.
This heart-warming story makes the reader realize that no matter what in his life, there is always more room for love, wisdom and courageousness. This is certainly a story of life, wisdom and bravery. The writer, Anil Chandra has done an applauding job in writing from a blind boy’s perspective which many feel hard to do. The narration style was third-person. The sentence structure and the vocabulary were simple indeed; brief, concise and easy which in turn makes the narration beautiful. Sukhram was a round character, in a way that the reader can hear his thoughts and see his emotions, thus in the end empathizing and sympathizing with him. We see the character grow positively as well. Sukhram, at the start of the story, was content with the blind and dark life he led until his brother and father went off to war. Realizing he’s no good to the world made him sad and feels useless about himself. This is ironic, for his village in the end seeks his help, a blind boy to lead them up a hill. The reader can feel the jolt of confidence in Sukhram again, and feel his energy in plain black and white. Sukhram turned his disability, his weakness into ability, strength. The title of the story suggests something that the character overcomes. He was sad and afraid, yet there he overcame his problems and fear. His courage became invincible.
The theme of the story is no matter what setbacks you face in life, you can always turn things around; when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It doesn’t’ mean that if you’re lacking in one factor of life, you can’t excel in the other. If God gave you a weakness, he gave you strength too. Every person is different, special with his unique set of abilities and disabilities. You’re special in your own way. For example, let’s take a look at Sukhram. He is blind, yet his other senses are alive. He has a wild nose and sharp ears, he takes into notice the smallest of things possible, like the mountain scents or the feel of rocks and pebbles beneath his feet or the rustling of winds on grass. These little things that he paid attention to became so pivotal in his role in leading the army up the hill. This is where his strengths helped him out, thus helping him succeed in doing so.
I think what the writer wanted to convey to his readers was that life will be peachy, there’s no lie in that, but you have the power to choose the right paths and make the right choices and you can turn your life the other way around. No matter how sad your life is, you can still hope for a splash of the sun or a glimpse of a shooting star. So man should not lose hope for there will be a way to make things right. Just like after every thunderstorm there shines a rainbow, so too shall this pass.