The story Journey by Night by Norah Burke is about Sher Singh, son of Sher Singh Bahadur who was a famous Shikari or hunter.
One day, Sher Singh’s brother Kunwar falls sick while their father is gone on an expedition with some photographers. He complains about an excruciating stomach ache. The family of four has a tragic history of deaths due to cholera etc and gets really worried.
The mother tries her best but Kunwar does not get better. He needs to go to the hospital in Kalaghat, some fifty miles away from their place in Lalwani. The mother has to look after the cattle and farms and there is no other elder in the house.
Consequently, Sher Singh is entrusted with the responsibility to take Kunwar to the hospital. Their mother prepares a sling from her sari for the same. To save time, Sher Singh decides to cut through the jungle and cross the two rivers. He hopes to get a lift from there.
Journey Through the Jungle
The journey through the jungle is full of terrors and dangers. As he walks through the forest, he gets terrified of the cries and scowls of different animals. He narrowly escapes the clutches of a cobra.
With daylight dwindling, he starts feeling the weight of his brother and decides to rest when he reaches the first river. He decides to take refuge on a nearby cliff.
But to his surprise, he sees a herd of elephants squabbling nearby and is caught in a difficult situation. He could not carry his brother nor could he climb any tree. However, the herd left the brothers alone and unscathed.
Relieved and revitalized, Sher Singh crosses the bridge over the river and continues his journey. Walking through the shallow river, he sees fresh footprints of a tiger but keeps on walking undeterred and reaches the second river by nightfall.
The Swim Through the Flooding River
The river is running full due to the recent melting of snow and the currents are very strong. The bridge over the river is ripped to pieces in front of his eyes. Sher Singh puts his brother down and gives him some water to drink. Determined not to stop, he decides to make a rope with grass and ties himself and his brother together.
Now, he crosses the river carefully keeping his brother’s head out of the water. The river is turbulent and Sher Singh uses all his strength to move slowly, all the while clinging to the timber of the wrecked bridge. After a great struggle, fighting against the thudding waters, he finally crosses the river and reaches the road to Kalaghat.
Sher Singh Reaches the Hospital
Soon, he gets successive lifts on a bullock cart and a truck and reaches the hospital. To arrange his meal he works in the railway yards and procures some money. At the hospital, the doctor learns about the young brave-heart and looks for him as he knows about his father, Sher Singh Bahadur.
He finds the boy and praises him by calling him ‘Sher Singh Bahadur’. He assures Sher Singh about his brother’s condition and gives him the good news about his recovery.
Journey by Night is a story of human resolve and bravery. It speaks about the importance of courage in overcoming difficult circumstances and adversities. It also highlights the fact that strength and courage do not come from age or experience.
Anyone, of any age and at any time can show fearlessness and determination when they are faced with tough challenges like young Sher Singh. The tale also celebrates the relationship between siblings. It depicts a strong sense of responsibility that every person feels toward their family.
For questions-answers on Journey by Night, refer to this site.