Eidgah by Munshi Premchand (Part 4)

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Part 1 of the story | Part 2 of the story | Part 3 of the story 

Now, he understood why Chaudhari has so much wealth and why he is respected so much.
Let’s move ahead. This is the police line. This is where the constables reside. Raton! Fie Fo! The poor guys roam around at night and keep watch, else robberies might happen.
Mohsin revolted – These constables keep watch? You don’t know too much, my friend. These are the ones who steal. All the gangsters in the city, they themselves go and shout, ‘Jaagte raho! Jaagte raho!’ That is how they have so much money. My uncle was a constable in one thana. He used to get Rs. 2000 per month, but would send only Rs. 50 home. Allah’s promise! I had asked him once, Mamu, how do you get so much money? He laughed and said, ‘If we want, we can take lakhs in a day. We only take enough to save our name and our jobs.’
Hamid – If these people steal, then why does nobody catch them?
Mohsin laughed at his innocence and said… Oh, duffer! Who will catch them? They are the ones who are supposed to catch thieves. But allah, punishes these people a lot. Black money has to turn to ashes someday. Just a few days ago, Mamu’s house was on fire. All his fortune got burnt. Not a single utensil remained. Slept under a tree for many days, allah’s promise. Under a tree! Then, from somewhere, he took a loan of hundred rupees which helped him settle down again.
Hamid – A hundred is more than a fifty?
Mohsin – Where is fifty, and where is hundred. Fifty fits in one bag. Hundred will not fit in two bags also.
The crowd started increasing in size. Groups of travellers headed for Eidgah, started appearing. All wearing shiny clothes. Some were sitting in a tonga, some were sitting in their cars. Everyone doused in itr, everyone having joy in their heart. This small group of boys from the village, unaware of their poverty, were walking with contentment. Everything about the city was new for them. Whatever thing they looked at, they kept looking at it and even a car’s horn wouldn’t make them budge. Hamid almost survived a car accident.

Eidgah by Munshi Premchand (Part 3)

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Part 1 of the story | Part 2 of the story

Hamid’s Madarsa had two-three big-big boys, total dunderheads. They got beaten up daily, shirked away from work. This place will also have such people, what else.

The club house has magic shows inside. One hears that dead skulls run around the place. And many other different kinds of spectacles occur but nobody is allowed inside. The gentlemen play cricket in the evenings. Big-big men play it, with beards and moustaches. The ladies play it too, really. Give this in my grandmother’s hands – what do you call it? – a bat. She’ll fall as soon as she’ll swing.

Mahmud – My mother’s hands will start shaking, allah’s promise!

Mohsin – Mother may be able to grind wheat. But, just give her a bat, her hands will start shaking! She may take out hundreds of pots of water. Five pots is drunk by the buffalo alone. Let one of these ladies fill one pot, they will have darkness over their eyes.

Mahmud – But she can’t run. She can’t jump and flutter.

Mohsin – Yes, she can’t run and jump, but that day my cow escaped and ran into Chaudhary’s farm. Amma ran so fast that I couldn’t catch her. Really.

Let’s move ahead. The sweetshops started showing up. They were all well-decorated today. Who eats so many mithais? One hears, that a djinn comes at night and takes away all the mithais. Dad used to say that every midnight a man would go to each of these shops and whatever sweets are left, he’d get them measured and pay money for real, money exactly like this.

Hamid didn’t believe it – from where would a djinn get so much money?

Mohsin – Why would a djinn have paucity of money? They can go into any one of their khazanas. Even iron doors can’t stop them, what world are you in! They have diamonds and jewellery as well. Whoever excites them, gets a big bag of jewellery. Today, they are sitting here, in five minutes they’ll reach Calcutta.

Hamid – Are these djinns really big?

Mohsin – Each of their heads is as tall as the sky ji. If they stand on the floor, their heads can touch the sky, but if they want, they can fit into a small mug too.

Hamid – Everyone would be making this djinn happy. Someone give me this mantra also, and I’ll make one of these djinns happy.

Mohsin – Now, I don’t know this, but Chaudhary saheb has many djinns in his custody. Something gets stolen, Chaudhary saheb will immediately find out and spot the thief. Jumrati’s goat had been stolen. Looked around for three days, didn’t find anything. With no other choice, we met Chaudhary saheb. Chaudhary saheb immediately said he was in the animal prison, and that’s where we found him. The djinns come and give him the world’s news.

Eidgah by Munshi Premchand (Part 2)

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Part 1 of the story

Who had called for this bloody Eid? This house had no place for it, but Hamid! What did he care if somebody had lived, or somebody had died. He was filled with light inside, and hope outside. Adversities may bring all her friends along, Hamid’s exultant mind would destruct it.

Hamid goes inside and tells his grandmother – You don’t be scared amma, I would be the first to return. Don’t be scared at all.

Ameena’s heart was cursing itself. Every kid in the village was going with their fathers. Who does Hamid have for a father if not her? How can I let him go alone in the fair? What if he gets lost in that crowd? No, Ameena could not let him go like this. What a small boy, how will he be able to walk three kilometres? His legs would get ulcers. Doesn’t even have shoes. She could have gone and taken him on her shoulders for some distance, but who would then make the sevaiyaan? If she had money, she could have arranged all the ingredients and prepared it quickly. Now, she will have to take hours just to arrange the ingredients. Asking people was the only hope left. That day, she had stitched Fahiman’s cloth – had got some money in return. She had saved that money like her pride for this very Eid, but yesterday that woman came and asked for her money back, so what could she do? Even if I don’t get anything for Hamid, I’ll still need milk worth 2 Rs. Now, she has just 8 Rs. left. 3 in Hamid’s pocket, and 5 in her wallet. But, this itself is our value, and now only Allah can help. So many people will come, and everyone will want some sevaiyaan. And nobody wants to see just a little bit. Who all can she hide from? And why should she hide? This festival comes once in a year. May life pass by safely, their fate depended on this itself; may the children stay safe, these days too shall pass!

The whole village left for the fair. Hamid too went with the other kids. Sometimes, everyone would run and go ahead. Then, they would wait under a tree for the others to join them. Why are these people walking so slowly? It was as if Hamid’s legs had got wings. Could he ever be tired? They had reached the city’s border. The rich had grown their gardens on both sides of the road. Proper walls had been built. The trees had mangoes and litchees growing on them. Sometimes, a boy would pick up a stone and point at the mango. The gardener would come from inside abusing. But, the kids are separated by a wall. They are laughing heartily. What a fool we’ve made of the gardener!

The tall skyscrapers started coming into view. This is a court, this is a college, this is a club house. How many students must be studying in this huge college? But, these are not mere boys! These are big people. With big big moustaches. They’ve grown so old, still they are studying. What will they do by studying so much?

(…to be continued.)

Eidgah by Munshi Premchand (Part 1)

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This is one of my most favorite short stories of all times, and rightfully one of Munshi Premchand’s greatest hits. Enjoyed translating it much more than I hoped to. I apologize if I’ve offended anyone by attempting to replicate a masterpiece, but this one’s from 1933 and I can’t think of a better writing exercise than this! 

 

After 30 days of Ramzan, Eid was finally here. What a captivating, what a beautiful effect it had. The trees were unusually greener, the fields were unusually brighter, the sky was unusually sunny. Look at the sun today! How beautiful, how pretty. As if its wishing the world Eid Mubarak.

The village is so tensed today. Everyone’s preparing for Eid. Someone doesn’t have a button for their kurta, they are running to their neighbours house for some thread and needle. Someone’s shoes got tight, they are running to the oil shop to lubricate it. Let’s just all bathe our buffalos quickly! It’ll be afternoon by the time we return from the Eidgah! A three-kilometre walking distance, followed by meeting hundreds of people, it’ll be impossible to return in the afternoon.
The boys are the happiest! Someone has kept a fast till noon, some not even that. But, they were entitled to their share of happiness about going to Eidgah. The fasts were for the grown-ups, for them it was Eid.

They were waiting for it for a long time, and now it’s here. And now that it’s here, they were feeling restless about people not hurrying up to go to Eidgah. What do they care about the problems of domesticity? Whether or not there is milk and sugar for sevaiyaan (vermicelli porridge), what do they care, they know that they will eat the sevaiyaan. What do they care about why their father was running to Choudhary Kayam Ali’s place like a mad man! What do they know that, if only Choudhary would change his glasses, he’ll be able to go on his Eid pilgrim. They had the wealth of Kuber in their pockets. Again and again, they would take out their treasure and keep it back after getting their dose of happiness. Mahmoud counts his, one, two… 10… 12, he has 12 rupees. Mohsin had one, two, three… 10… 12… he has 15 rupees. They will just buy unlimited things out of this unlimited wealth – toys, sweets, flute, ball – and god only knew what else.

And the happiest was Hamid. He was just five years old – poor and frail, whose father was killed by the plague last year and his mom – god only knows why – died by slowly turning yellower as the days went by. Nobody knew what the disease was. Even if she spoke about it, was there anyone to listen? Whatever would go through her heart, she would keep it in there and when she couldn’t take it anymore.. she left this world. Now, Hamid sleeps in her grandmother Ameena’s lap and is just as happy as everyone else. His grandfather had gone to earn some money. He’d bring back bags of it. Grandmum had gone to Allah Miyan’s place to get some really cool stuff, that’s why Hamid is happy. Hope is a great thing, and a child’s hope! Their dreams can make a mountain out of a molehill. Hamid doesn’t have any shoes, his head has an old looking cap, whose cloth had become black with dirt – but he is happy. Now, his grandfather will bring money and grandmother will bring gifts – then he will find contentment in his heart. Then he will see how Mohsin, Noore and Sammi find that much money!

Poor Ameena was sitting alone in her room and crying. Today was Eid, her house didn’t have a single morsel of food! If Aabid would be here, then would Eid come and go like this? She was harrowing in that pit of darkness and disappointment. Who had called for this bloody Eid?

(…to be continued.)

Blessing (Vardaan) by Munshi Premchand

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The Vindhyachal mountain, in the darkness that pervades late after midnight, was looking like Kaal Dev (God of Darkness) himself. The small trees planted on the mountain were becoming invisible. The temple of Ashtabhuja Devi (Goddess with eight hands, durga) was being sprayed by small snow balls that were fluttering with the assistance of gentle breeze.

Half of the night had passed. There was a scary silence all around. The black waves of the Ganges was flowing peacefully beneath the mountain. Their movement was akin to a soothing raga (symphony). A few boats and huts built across the banks, had burning chulhas (stove) and one could see their light flames. In such a time, a woman clad in a white dress was sitting in front of the Durga statue – her hands clasped in prayer. Her face was yellowish and seemed pensive. After keeping her head bowed for a long time, she said,

“Mother! Since the last twenty years, there hasn’t been a single Tuesday where I have not offered my prayers. Not a single day has passed, where I have not meditated on your feet. You are the all-knowing queen of the world. Even after worshipping you so much, my wishes haven’t been fulfilled. Where do I go if I leave you?”

“Mother! I kept several fasts. Worshipped numerous gods. Went on pilgrimages, yet my wish has remained unfulfilled. After that, I came to your feet. You’ve always fulfilled the wishes of your devotees. Should I go away disappointed from your court?”

Suwama kept on praying like this for a long long time. Suddenly, there was an attack of stunning affection on her mind. She couldn’t see anymore, and a sound started buzzing in her head.

“Suwama! I am pleased by your efforts. Ask, whatever you wish for?”

Suwama was elated. Her heart started pounding. After a long wait of 20 years, she had finally received a sitting with the Goddess.

“Will the Goddess give whatever I ask for?”

“Yes, you’ll get it.”

“I have done some intense worshipping, therefore I will ask for a tremendous thing.”

“What will you take – Kuber’s wealth?”

“No.”

“Indra’s strength.”

“No.”

“Saraswati’s wisdom?”

“No.”

“Then what will you take?”

“A well-mannered son.”

“Who makes the family proud?”

“No.”

“Who takes care of his parents?”

“No.”

“Someone who is strong and a scholar?”

“No.”

“Then what do you call a good son?”

“One who serves the nation.”

“Your wisdom is praiseworthy. Your wish has been granted.”

5 press conferences by Tennis players that will make you chuckle with delight!

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While I admire and respect all athletes (too bad I am not one myself), I have a softer spot for tennis players. A quote by Andre Agassi in his autobiography Open perfectly sums up why I like them! Here are some press conferences for you to enjoy!

Tennis is the sport in which you talk to yourself. No athletes talk to themselves like tennis players. Pitchers, golfers, goalkeepers, they mutter to themselves, of course, but tennis players talk to themselves – and answer. In the heat of a match, tennis players look like lunatics in a public square, ranting and swearing and conducting Lincoln-Douglas debates with their alter egos. Why? Because tennis is so damned lonely.

1. Andy Roddick!

2. Sergiy Stakhovsky!

Watch out for what Sergiy says at the end of this video!

3. Novak Djokovic interrupted by Maria Sharapova

Bonus: Djokovic interrups Grigor Dimitrov (Sharapova’s Boyfriend)

4. Nadal cramping

This shouldn’t be funny, but it is!

Bonus: Here’s Wawrinka doing the same thing!

5. Journalist makes a massive blunder!

Day Zero

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Day Zero is the day when the spring in your step is back. Day Zero is the day when you are no longer caught in a downward spiral. Your body is healing, and your mind is reaping the benefits.

The past is irrelevant. It’s like having a fresh notebook.

Suddenly, you are gaining a lot of energy from your past victories, and finding it hard to concentrate on the defeats.

Day Zero is not Day One. Action has still not been taken. Expertise has still not been regained. Defeats are yet to be avenged, and the journey is yet to start.

That said, the canvas is fresh and the painter is brimming with enthusiasm.

Living in darkness (Part 3 of 7)

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Read the second part of the story here.

Rishi returned home and did not look at his mother in the eye. Not because he was pissed or anything, but because he didn’t want to expose his extremely red eyes. His high was coming down gradually, and he looked set for 5-6 hours (no office tomorrow meant that he would stay awake for a long time) of complete freedom. Alas, things didn’t turn out too well.

Maa and babuji are coming next month,’ his mother announced.

The news sent a wave of panic in Rishi because it meant that he will not be able to smoke up and masturbate. Their house was not a palace with many rooms, and two more people coming in certainly played havoc with his existence. Not for once did Rishi see their arrival as an opportunity to shower his love and earn some good karma points. His conscience did feel a few guilt pangs at this attitude, but that didn’t change his heart.

He just saw the negative side of things. He thought how he would have to purchase medicine, fetch glasses of water and refrain from shouting at his mom.

Rishi cursed god for making his life so difficult. As it is, he was not having the greatest of times at work. A joint at the end of the day, was something he looked forward to. With the arrival of his grandparent, even that would go.

He took a deep breath in sadness, and crashed on the bed to sleep. He hadn’t had his dinner, but he was too high and sad to care.

To be continued…

Living in darkness (Part 2 of 7)

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Read the first part of the series here. 

He started planning what all he would do over the weekend. There was not a lot lined up on television, and he knew that it would be a lot of smoking and smoking up, lot of watching porn and masturbating, some eating and if time allowed, some reading.

He thought about reading – that lost habit that gave him so much pleasure. How he would finish books in a matter of days. If he had this job, then it was somewhat due to his habit of reading.

But, with time people learn news things – the hollow created by not reading was filled by his new hobby – marijuana smoking. Another thing that he had learnt in recent past was the sense of intense competition that existed in most people. If only this sense of competition (and the fire it created) had come to him earlier, he would have been somewhere else by now.

It wasn’t too late still. He could still create a storm. He could work hard on something like a website that would become the next ‘ScoopWhoop’. He could become an entrepreneur and leave all those who overtook him behind. Ah! The thought of victory over those people was more intoxicating than the marijuana and wine he was having.

To be continued…

Living in darkness (Part 1 of 7)

Rishi returned to his home much more energetic than usual. It was Friday evening, that beautiful time that most working professionals in MNCs lived for. He had just started his working life (4 months), and had already come to absolutely love this period.

He threw his bag on the sofa, his pants on the chair. He sat down lazily on the chair and demanded a glass of Bournvita from his mother, who scolded him (for the 49,786th time in this life) for creating  a mess in the house just seconds after entering. For the 49,786th time, he ignored her taunts thinking that he had better things to worry about than that.

The next thing on his agenda was collecting the small wad of weed that he had stored at the bottom of a cigarette box. It only took him about 5 seconds to take it from a drawer that would rarely be used until a couple of months back.

After watching songs of new releases on TV for 20 minutes, he collected his wallet and made his way outside the house. His first purchase was a small bottle of cheap wine. His next purchase was a box of cigarettes and a lighter. Usually, he bought just a matchbox, but since the day was a Friday, he felt prosperous.

With this entire arsenal for intoxication in place, he made his way to his building’s terrace (taking soft steps and rushing past the door of his flat), which was a dark place – devoid of human intervention. The only light was some rays coming from the streetlights. With the help of the light from his mobile, he rolled a joint. Without delay, he lit it up and 3-4 drags later, he could feel his eyes shrinking, time slowing down and the adjoining buildings, the trees and the sky becoming more defined. His face tightened up, and he said to himself, ‘oh, what a feeling!’

To be continued…

Like what you read? Check out other short stories written by me.