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from Hiren's Journey by Rebecca Onkar

Chapter 6

Bram rose, ladled a cup of water, squatted down next to the girl and waited for her to take it. She paused only a moment before reaching out with both hands to accept the cup. She poured the entire amount of water down her throat without ever letting her lips touch the rim or pausing for breath. She handed the cup back to Bram and he walked to the jug to refill it.

She poured the second cup in to her mouth in the same way as before, but it was clear that her thirst had subsided a bit. She drank it slowly and finally handed the cup back to Bram who remained stooped before her.

Bram lowered the empty cup to the floor beside him and then lowered himself so that he was sitting cross-legged on the dusty wood-slatted floor across from the girl.

“What is your name?” Bram tried first in English, hoping she might know or have learnt some of the language at some point.

She shifted her eyes between Bram and Abel and looked ready to bolt at any second but didn’t say a word. Abel had remained sitting at the table during this interlude, but seeing that this could take a while he stood and walked behind the table and took out a project.

“Name?” Bram tried again to no avail.

“Try telling her your name,” Abel interjected from the other side of the room while sanding down and smoothing out a round wooden ball. If possible, the girl shrank further into the corner at the sound of his voice.

“My name is Bram,” he began.

“My name is Bram,” he said again while pointing to his own chest.

She just stared at him with her large frightened eyes. Bram hung his head; he was tired, too tired.

He was just about to rise when he felt Abel’s hand on his shoulder.

“Bram,” Abel said while poking Bram in the chest.

“Bram,” Abel said, jabbing his finger at his older brother again.

“Ouch.” Bram muttered but Abel ignored him.

“A – bel,” Abel said pointing to his own chest.

He did it again.

Finally, “Bram. Abel,” smacking his hand on Bram’s chest and then back to his own.

“What is his name?” Hiren asked her mother as she stroked her new ...

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