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A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry (inglés)

The morning express bloated with passengers slowed to a crawl, then lurched forward suddenly, as though to resume full speed. The train’s brief deception jolted its riders. The bulge of humans hanging out of the doorway distended perilously, like a soap bubble at its limit.
Inside the compartment, Maneck Kohlah held on to the overhead railing, propped up securely within the crush. He felt someone’s elbow knock his textbooks from his hand. In the seats nearby, a thin young fellow was catapulted into the arms of the man opposite him. Maneck’s textbooks fell upon them.
“Ow!” said the young fellow, as volume one slammed into his back.
Laughing, he and his uncle untangled themselves. Ishvar Darji, who had a disfigured left cheek, helped his nephew out of his lap and back onto the seat. “Everything all right, Om?”
“Apart from the dent in my back, everything is all right,” said Omprakash Darji, picking up the two books covered in brown paper. He hefted them in his slender hands and looked around to find who had dropped them.

Maneck acknowledged ownership. The thought of his heavy textbooks thumping that frail spine made him shudder. He remembered the sparrow he had killed with a stone, years ago; afterwards, it had made him sick.
His apology was frantic. “Very sorry, the books slipped and—”
“Not to worry,” said Ishvar. “Wasn’t your fault.” To his nephew he added, “Good thing it didn’t happen in reverse, hahn? If I fell in your lap, my weight would crack your bones.” They laughed again, Maneck too, to supplement his apology.
Ishvar Darji was not a stout man; it was the contrast with Omprakash’s skinny limbs that gave rise to their little jokes about his size. The wise-cracks originated sometimes with one and sometimes the other. When they had their evening meal, Ishvar would be sure to spoon out a larger portion onto his nephew’s enamel plate; at a roadside dhaba, he would wait till Omprakash went for water, or to the latrine, then swiftly scoop some of his own food onto the other leaf.


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