Two Gentlemen from Verona
NCERT English Literature Class X – Paraphrasing of the story
Two Gentlemen from VeronaParagraph1 .. As we drove towards Verona along the foothills of Alps, we were accosted by two youngsters.
Para 2 .. They were hawking wild strawberries. Our driver Luigi was apparently put off by their shabby looks. He tried to dissuade me from buying anything from them.
Para 3 .. His body language was clearly dismissive. Para 4 .. One boy wore a frayed jersey and cut-off paints. The other had a army tunic and looked no better. The duo, scrawny, dark-skinned and unkempt hair looked soliciting towards us. Instead of any irritation, we felt strangely sympathetic towards them. My companion spoke to them. We learnt that they were brothers. The elder one was Nicola (13) and the younger one was Jaccopo (12). We bought their biggest basket and headed towards Verona.
Para 5 .. Next morning, as we stepped out of the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised to see the siblings seated on the base of the fountain in the square. They were polishing shoes of customers, and there were quite a few of them waiting.
Para 6 .. After the last customer was served, we went near the boys. They greeted us welcomingly.
Para 7 .. I told them about my surprise to see them in this new trade.
Para 8 .. Nicola told us that they did so many other things to eke out a living. They work as guides for tourists, taking them to important places like the Juliet’s tomb. It was almost a proposition.
Para 9 .. I instantly asked them to take us on a guided tour of the town.
Para 10 .. We moved about the town. Their cool and composed exterior aroused our sympathy and curiousity. They had the naughtiness of their young age. At the same time, they appeared so guiltless. Jaccopo was so tender, but Nicola was serious and agreeable. They appeared worn out by their daily grind.
Para 11 .. We ran into them quite often in the following days. We found them quite handy for our small needs such as getting a pack of American cigarettes or tickets for the opera house. Slowly we realized that they were trustworthy.
Para 12 .. They appeared to be weathering their hard times with remarkable stoicism. The odd jobs they did never appeared to sap their energy. In the hot summer sun, they could muster energy to shine shoes, sell fruit, hawk newspapers, work as escorts and run errands.
Para 13 .. One cold windy night, we found them seated on the stone pavement under the lights.
Para 14 .. Nicola was wide awake. Jaccopo had slept off hunched over his brother’s shoulders. It was a sad sight to see the two there so late in the night.
Para 15 .. I asked Nicola what had kept him there at such an odd hour.
Para 16 .. He said he was waiting for the last bus from Padua. He could sell the left-over newspapers to the passengers.
Para 17 .. I wondered why they had to toil so hard when they were so drained.
Para 18 .. With baffling equanimity, he told that he was taking the hard life in his stride.
Para 19 .. The next morning I again saw the two when I stepped out to get my shoes polished. I told them why they had to eat so frugally when they were obviously making a tidy earning. I had seen them surviving on some black breads and figs. What they did with the money, I wondered.
Para 20 .. The boy appeared unprepared for this question. His unease was apparent as he avoided my gaze.
Para 21 .. I suggested if they were saving money to emigrate to America. Nicola seemed struggling to reply.
Para 22 .. Nicola agreed with my suggestion, but told me that the two had some other plans.
Para 23 .. I was clearly curious to know what the plan was.
Para 24 .. He was not ready to disclose anything.
Para 25 .. I didn’t want to press him further. I told him about my plan of leaving on Monday. I asked him if I could do anything for them.
Para 26 .. Nicola declined my offer. Jacopo, however, blurted out a request. He said they visited Poleta every Sunday. They cycled the 30-kilometer distance in a rented bike. Jacopo asked if I could drive them to Poleta.
Para 27 .. I told them readily that I will drive the car myself as Luigi, the driver, had taken the day off.
Para 28 .. There was a pause. Nicola looked at his younger brother rather disapprovingly. He seemed eager not to inconvenience me in any way.
Para 29 .. I brushed off his reluctance.
Para 30 .. He agreed, though quite hesitantly.
Para 31 .. As planned, we drove to Poleta, hillside tiny village. Contrary to my thoughts that I, would, at best see a cluster of humble houses, we reached a red-roof big house surrounded by high walls. I was a bit taken aback to see this. The two siblings sprang to their feet and got out of the car.
Para 32 .. The two brothers assured me that they would be back in about an hour. I could go to the village café to kill my time over a drink, they suggested politely.
Para 33 .. But, my curiosity took hold of my instincts. I went in to the compound and to gain entry inside, I rang the bell in front of the grilled door.
Para 34 .. A pretty-looking woman with her nurse’s clothes appeared soon.
Para 35 .. I made it known that the two boys inside were my companions.
Para 36 .. She ushered me in welcomingly.
Para 37 .. The house was a villa now converted to a hospital. She led me through a lobby to a cubicle fitted with glass door. I was asked to stay quiet and peep in through the glass pane.
Para 38 .. A girl, possibly in her twenties, rested against her pillows on the hospital bed. My two boys sat beside her chatting gladly. The cubicle was Spartan in look with just a flower vase, some books, and a bowl with fruits.
Para 39 .. The girl patient’s name was Lucia. The nurse enquired if I wanted to go in. I, somehow, didn’t like to go in and disrupt the happy chat session inside.
Part 40 .. I hastily came down the stairs. A torrent of questions was rushing through my mind. I earnestly requested the nurse to tell me story behind the trio.
Para 41 .. She was quite forthcoming. She told me that Lucia was the two brothers’ elder sister. They had lost their mother early in their lives. Their father, a singer of repute, was killed by the German bombing. The raid pulverized their house leaving the trio shelter-less. All their comforts of life was lost for good. Lucia, a budding singer, had to fight for her survival now. Exposed to the elements, the trio clung to their lives. Hunger and cold ravaged their lives.
Para 42 .. The travail continued for months. They managed to erect a ramshackle shelter in their plot strewn with rubbles. The German domination was drawing to a close as the war tapered off. The two boys had joined a resistance group against the German occupiers. The war ended finally and peace returned. Sadly, the trio’s lives suddenly was plunged in grief. Lucia, the eldest of the siblings, contacted tuberculosis of the spine. It was a bolt from the blue.
Para 43 .. Clearly, the nurse was overwhelmed with emotions.
Para 44 .. The two brothers didn’t bend before their cruel fate. They decided to confront their adversity head on. They brought the ailing Lucia to the hospital and admitted her for treatment. Her turn around was fast enough to give rise to optimism. She was clearly making her way back to a normal life.
Para 45 .. Those were very hard war days. The hospital needed resources to keep going. So, it charged some nominal fees from the inmates. Lucia’s two little brothers managed to deposit the fees every week. They, obviously, earned the money the hard way. The nurse didn’t know how the duo garnered the money.
Para 46 .. I was full of appreciation for the two boys’ Herculean efforts to gather money to stay alive and pull their sister back from the jaws of death.
Para 47 .. I stayed outside till Nicola and Jocopo returned. I kept silent and the two brothers did not volunteer any information either. They were unaware of the fact that I had dug out their story. But their courage, determination and spirit of defiance struck a chord in my heart. The goodness they exuded, and the charm they radiated seemed to add to the spirit of selflessness and service that enriches our existence on earth.
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