Shyam was into farming and had owned acres of land. He grew different varieties of crops. He also had reared cattle and poultry. Every year his harvest yielded him a good profit. Many farmers worked for Shyam and they were happy working for him as he would provide good incentives. Sometimes Shyam too would work in the fields.
Sitara was Shyam’s wife. She would lend a hand at work when required. Together they had two daughters and a son. Both of them wanted their children to be well qualified and hence they had got them admitted to the school which was located in the adjacent town as the village they lived in, did not have any schools. Shyam would drop them at school in the morning and the kids would return home by bus after their school.
Shyam was a pious man. All the festivities would be celebrated with great pomp. Villagers would take part in their religious ceremonies. Shyam would often visit the nearby towns for work purposes. On one such occasion, when Shyam had been to town for a meeting which was held by the Farmer’s association- he was urged by his friend to have a drink. Shyam had always refused. But this time he thought that he would make an attempt and experience the feeling.
What initially began as occasional drinking slowly had turned into a habit. Shyam had also got hooked to small-time gambling. Shyam had never won any big money though. He had spent a lot of money on alcohol and gambling. Sitara had tried hard to keep Shyam out of his ill habits but she could not succeed. Sitara’s efforts had seemed nugatory.
Shyam had lost money in gambling and hence he had to mortgage his house and also had sold part of his land to fit into his new lifestyle and to clear his loans and monthly instalments. His family had been perturbed by his behaviour and children could not concentrate on their studies as their exams were approaching. Sitara had decided that she would relocate along with kids near the school as it would be easier for the children to commute and also away from Shyam’s erratic conduct which had a negative influence on them.
Despite all this, Shyam did not mend his ways. He had gotten into a lot of debts. He had learnt about a new lottery and the winning price would be fifty lakhs. As always he had gone and bought the lottery ticket. Prayed that he won the lottery so that his debts would be recovered. While returning home after he had bought the ticket that night, he had met a palmist who had told him that very soon he would gather a large pot of money.
When he had heard this, Shyam was in very high spirits. He had invested in a lot of things on credit thinking that he would repay once he had got the price money. He had also informed Sitara about it. The day lottery winners were to be announced, he had woken up early that morning. The results would be declared in the evening and so Shyam had decided that it is for this one last time he would drink and forever give up this habit.
Shyam had drunk to his heart’s content. He had asked his neighbour to pick up the newspaper from the shop as he was not in a condition to go and fetch it. The neighbour had got the newspaper and left it on the table and had informed Shyam. Shyam was half-awake at that moment.
Shyam had picked up the paper after some time and had checked for the lottery numbers. He was flabbergasted. The numbers on his lottery had matched the sequence mentioned in the paper except for the last two digits- which had still meant that he had won half the amount. The next morning, Shyam had been to the lottery ticket vendor and had informed him about it. The vendor double checked the ticket. After the vendor had checked, he laughed uncontrollably and had informed Shyam that it’s the previous day’s paper that he had matched the ticket to and hence he would not be eligible for the prize amount.
Shyam grabbed the paper and checked it once again. He had not seen the date on the paper as he was sloshed. In dismay, he then sat right down there outside the ticket outlet and grieved for his loss.