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The Holy Imposter: Chapter 1

Jacob was boiling with frustration. Just how cruel could this greedy boss be?



t was a sweltering hot day in India as hundreds of merchants gathered in the local marketplace to sell their wares. Animals collided against each other as their owners struggled to maneuver them through the crowded, muddy streets. A mixture of sweet and harsh smells wafted through the air as fruits were displayed alongside animal hides. The voices of the energetic vendors created a racket loud enough to wake up half the country.

A Jewish boy awoke atop the rags he slept upon inside a narrow alleyway. He washed his hands with the tin cup next to him and recited the morning prayers from a tattered scroll he kept inside a sack that held all his belongings. Then he headed off to begin a grueling day of work.

He knew the streets like he knew the back of his hand. The sights, smells, and sounds of India’s busiest marketplace were as familiar to him as the beating of his own heart. It was here, in these chaotic streets, that he had been forced to take refuge after the sudden passing of both of his parents.

A heavyset man with an elegant turban on his head greeted the boy from behind a huge ox loaded with satchels that hung down from each side of its massive stomach. The man was looking over a parchment.

“You’re late, Jacob.”

“You told me I didn’t have to come early today. You said we finished all of our major jobs for the week.”

“Someone placed an order last minute. I needed these satchels of fruit transported an hour ago. So, you’re late...”

The boy named Jacob did not argue. He was always at the mercy of his master. Workers had no say in the marketplace, especially orphan boys with no one to speak up for them.

“I’ll rush the order over. Where is it going?”

“The old farmer, Reyansh.”

“That’s not so far. I’ll get it right over.”

The boss sighed and tucked his parchment underneath his turban.

“Not so fast. You were late and made me wait. Reyansh will also be upset, presumably, so—”

“Reyansh isn’t even up awake yet! He doesn’t car—”

As I was saying, Reyansh will certainly be angry you were late as well, so I will only be giving you half your usual payment for this job.”

“That’s not fair!”

Jacob was boiling with frustration. Just how cruel could this greedy boss be?

“That’s my final decision.”

“You know Reyansh won’t even mind the lateness. I can get this to him immediately.”

“I’m not discussing this further.”

“You’re taking advantage of me!”

The boss shrugged.

“You want to walk away, then walk away.”

Jacob glanced over his boss’s shoulder at the dozens of people wandering the market square, desperately looking for work. He was easily replaceable and he knew it.

“I’ll do it.”

“Hurry up, then. Let’s not make this shipment later than it already is.”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 785)

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