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Summer-Fall '23

A Helping Hand
Sarah Das Gupta

As soon as the egg cracked open, we knew something was wrong.

‘His legs look weird, Dad. They’re sort of collapsing sideways.’

‘Yes, they splay when he tries to walk.’

He picked up the gosling, still wet and slippery. Weather beaten hands, rough from feeding cattle, ran gently up and down the frail, orange legs. Expert fingers felt intuitively for any fracture or injury.

‘He’s got weak legs, like your Grannie.’

‘But she’s really old. He’s only,’I glanced at my watch‘two minutes, fifty seconds young.’

‘Well, let’s see what we can do.’

Dad rummaged among the lotions and potions on his medicine shelf. Suddenly, he struck two matches and then blew them out. Puffs of smoke drifted over my head. I looked on as he cut two lengths of binder twine with what he called his long Chinaman’s thumb nail.

‘Now, you must hold him very still, like this.’

I held the gosling, his head between my thumbs. I could feel knobbly bones, his future wings.

My eyes grew wide as he deftly tied the improvised splints to the spindly legs.

‘Put him under the lamp with the others.’

We watched him walk confidently towards the light.

Sarah Das Gupta is a retired teacher from Cambridge, UK who has worked in India and Tanzania. She started writing last October after being in the hospital following an accident. Writing has given her the focus and challenge which have helped her to walk againyesterday, she achieved fifty metres. Her work has been  published in twelve countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Croatia and Romania.

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