By the River (2)

Rumbling of a Water Pump

After a while Kim Jong Il said that their lunch had a special taste. Then looking around, he said, “Well, I can hear something like a rumbling water pump.”

All listened attentively to the intermittent sound of the running machine.

The official explained, “I think the farmers at the pumping station, which we have just passed, have finished the assembling of a new pump and are running it to irrigate the fields before rice-transplanting.”

The General frowned, “Perhaps they haven’t had lunch as they are working until now.”

He went on that he felt sorry for the farmers who were working hard without having lunch, adding that if they could not be brought there to eat with him as they were working at the pump, it would be good to send some of their foods to them. Then he divided them himself.

He resumed: I once met an officer of the People’s Army who had advanced as far as the Raktong River with his unit during the war. On their ten-odd-day retreat they had endured all sorts of difficulties, partly for lack of food. I asked him whom he had longed for most in the trying period, and he replied that he had thought first of his senior who used to ply him with food. As he said, it is natural that when he is hungry a man thinks first of the people who gave him food and then of his parents. It is hard, indeed, to endure hunger…

He urged the official to take the foods to the workers, saying that he, the chief secretary, must go because the farmers in his county did not have lunch.

As the official was about to leave with the foods, he said:

“Don’t tell them that I am sending these foods to them. They may think that it is not right and proper to eat the foods, so you must not tell about me.”

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