Alevtina walked and walked for miles. She could not see a sign of human settlement anywhere. She was starting to give up hope. She did not know where to go, or what to do. So she kept walking. One day, she felt very thirsty so she went in search of some water. She found a stream flowing close by. She went closer to it and saw some houses next to the stream. She was excited. She thought, “Finally! I Made it!” She found a log and took its help to cross the stream. When she walked closer to the houses, she saw many people, roads, cars and shops. It was like a dream come true. She always thought cities and towns only existed in books.
She walked further inside and was stupefied by the enormous skyscrapers towering over her. Big complexes, glass buildings and modern technology- she could not believe her eyes. However, she was tired and hungry. She decided to go to a nearby shop and ask for some water. She approached the shopkeeper. “Hello! Could I please have a glass of water? I’ve travelled very far to reach here and I’m new here so it-”
The shopkeeper replied, “I don’t have time for your stories, nor do I have any free water to give you. Do you even have money?”
She was hurt. “No sir, I don’t have money.”
“Okay, you may leave. Good luck finding anything for free in the city.”
She didn’t understand what he meant. Wounded by his words, she quietly left the shop. That’s when she saw a customer asking for 2 litres of milk. The shopkeeper quietly went to the backyard. She followed him discreetly, hoping she would get some. The shopkeeper poured in about a jar of milk into a big vessel and put it on the weighing scale. The scale read: 900ml
He then proceeded to fill up the rest of the vessel with water. The number on the scale increased. He stopped after the scale read 2 litres. Alevtina was watching all this. She was surprised seeing this and did not know what to do. He was cheating his customers! Being an innocent young girl from the village, she was petrified by these occurrences. She left the shop as soon as she could. She decided to go to a few more places to ask for help but to no avail. Everyone she met would react just like the shopkeeper did- mean, cold and uninterested. They did not believe in helping her in any way. She knew it would not be possible for her to survive in that city.
She started walking back into the forest to return to her village. She found her way out somehow and followed the path back home. After a few more days, she was back to her safe space, with her family and friends. They were all worried sick. They gave her food and water and made sure she was well-rested. When she felt well, they approached her with many questions, “Where had you been? What did you do? How is it out there? What did you see? Are you alright? Did you get hurt?”
She just said, “The outsiders may tolerate your lapses but not your own kith and kin.”