Thursday, November 15, 2018


AFTER TWENTY YEARS is a short story by O Henry, the master story teller.
The back ground of the story is that two friends Bob and Jimmy Wells , 18 and 20 years of age, grow up together as kids in New York and are almost looked upon as brothers.One day they decide to part ways with a promise to meet exactly after twenty years at the appointed place  and time irrespective of how differently the time or luck treats them in terms of social status or financial well being.Bob leaves for the West to try his luck and make it big, while Jimmy Wells stays back at New York as he is not willing to leave the place.
Twenty years later -
A cop on the night patrol duty  passes through a market place to see whether the shops and stores closed for the night  are properly left locked and secure.He finds a man standing on the doorway of a hardware store.When enquired, the man tells the cop that he is waiting for a friend whom he had promised to meet after twenty years. When the man attempt to light up a cigarette, the cop in the light of the lighter recognizes the man as a wanted criminal who has run away to escape the law.The cop leaves.
The man who is waiting for his friend is desperate as Jimmy Wells had not turned up at the appointed time .
After a while  a cop in plain clothes appears and addresses the man by his name Bob. Bob happy that at last Jimmy has come to meet him as promised, warmly shakes hands with him. They walk together some distance and  when they come near the light , Bob comes to know from the man's appearance that he is not Jimmy Wells, as even the twenty years long period cannot bring about a drastic change in physical appearance.
When Bob tells him that he can not be his friend Jimmy, the  cop in plain clothes tells him that he is not Jimmy but a cop come to arrest him.
He takes out a note written by Jimmy Wells and hands it over to Bob.
It transpires that the cop who had earlier met Bob was Jimmy who had turned up on time and seeing that Bob his friend was a wanted criminal , who he being a cop was duty bound  to arrest had hesitated to do so being a friend and sought the help of a fellow cop to arrest him.
The two friends though are of different character and disposition, come across as true friends, fulfilling the promise of meeting each other , though the inherent irony makes it a sting in the tail narrative.

A great story indeed !

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