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‘The Gold Watch’ is a short story written by Ponjikkara Raphy. It is about a Sanku, a poor labourer and his turmoil. The story shows how he, a man who is no thief, is tempted by the allure of riches due to his financial distress and how he handles his momentary weakness.
About the author:
Ponjikkara Raphy (1924-1992) is a famous Malayalam writer. Not only is he a notable author and playwright but is also a renowned essayist. Famous works of his include Swargadhoothan, Ora Pro Nobis and Kaliyugam.
This theme of the story revolves around the socio-economic condition of poor labourers. It elaborates on the financial hardships they are forced to go through to make ends meet, what a difficult life that is thrust upon them and what they endure on an everyday basis.
Sanku is a poor, unskilled labourer. With a family consisting of his two children and his wife, who is expecting a third child, he struggles with the increasing expenses. Being paid low wages in his factory does not help his situation. In addition to this, he had a loan to repay, something he could not afford to do so. Understandably, Sanku was in dire need of money.
The Gold Watch:
Under these circumstances, fate proved to be tempting for him. The gold watch, which was in possession of the engineer of the factory Sanku worked for, caught his eye. The fact that the watch was left unguarded when the engineer left for his lunch break and that the whole factory would be deserted during the same did not escape Sanku’s notice.
Even as he was nervous, Sanku could not help but want to steal the watch to get rid of his financial problems. While he was not a thief, circumstances proved him otherwise. At 1, the factory’s lunch time, it got empty as expected. Spying the gold watch on the engineer’s table, Sanku proceeds to steal it through the half open window. He pocketed it.
Despite having achieved his mission, Sanku failed to feel any happiness. All he felt was fear and remorse. Questions of what would happen if and when he was found filled his mind, rendering him petrified. He could not help but imagine being the laughing stock of the family and being sacked of his job, thus losing everything including his respect. With this fear gripping his mind, Sanku silently placed the watch back from where he took it and went away.
As can be seen, Sanku is no thief. In a lapse of judgement, he had been tempted to steal. However, no matter how dire his situation was and how tempting the circumstances proved to be, with the exception of a slight falter, Sanku did not succumb to it. He won the internal war that raged within him and chose his morality over committing a crime. Thus, this story shows how being poor does not necessarily make people fall prey to dishonesty.