The day dawned bright and sunny, with a slight wind blowing in from the coast.
Everyone was in high spirits, especially the four new volunteers who had arrived
the night before. The locals were impressed by the way these youngsters worked -
all four exhibited dedication to their task with such
fervor that the locals had to tell them several times to rest or risk
heatstroke. But it was a sip of water and then back to work for them. The locals
were impressed by the selflessness of the young men.
Suresh was really
determined to distinguish himself as a good worker. The supervisor on this
project would be coming round any time now, and Tom wanted him to see how
diligent he was. After all, he had not wasted his holiday on some silly project
for nothing. Whether the villagers were able to cross the river was of no
concern to him except that it would give him a good report that would come in
handy for his bid to win a place on the Students' Council in school. He wondered
when the supervisor would appear.
Soon Hock was oblivious to the heat beating down on his back. He relished the
freedom that he finally felt after years of being in an oppressive family. He
was tired of being told what to do and how to do it. He was not stupid and slow,
as his family was always making him out to be. He would show them that he could
do something good without their unbearably dictatorial instructions. He would go
back a new person, a proven hero. He had to, if he hoped to escape from his
Melvin glanced around the site. He could see the grateful looks of the locals
who were overjoyed that the bridge across the river would finally be built. They
would not have to go around the river anymore. He felt so happy that he was
finally bringing a smile to someone's face. Melvin was extremely unpopular in
school, the reason for which still remained unknown to him. He wanted to come on
this volunteer mission to feel part of something, to
bask in the significance of something else. He was glad he had come.
He felt better about himself by the minute.
Akmal hated supervising such missions. He always ended up dirty and hot, with
inadequate food and drinks to make up for the backwardness of the village. Had
it not been for the fact that he needed some community service to be shown on
his application form for the 'Outstanding Teacher of the Year' award, he would
never deign to come to such a godforsaken
place. He would be spending his holiday in some picturesque country where there
would be exotic cuisine to be savored. Here, he could only taste the salty sweat
trickling down his face. It was disgusting.
The villagers decided to hold a cookout that night. They wanted to reward the
young men for being so selfless with their time and effort. Only the truly
kind-hearted would help them like they were doing, or so they thought.