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Now, they pass huge buildings. This is the court, this is a college, and that one is a club. How many boys must be studying in such huge colleges? Not all of them are boys, sir; some of them are men, by God! They have big moustaches; they have grown old, but are still studying. How long will they continue to study? What will they do afterwards? There are two or three big boys in Hamid's class. They are dullards, and get caned by the teacher every day. There could be such types of boys here too. Magic shows are held in the clubs; it is said they have a race of human skulls, but no one is allowed inside. The sahebs come here in the evenings to play, and the mems also play. If my mother is given that thing they call bat, she will not be able to hold it; she will collapse under its weight if she tries to swing it.

Mahmood said, "My mother's hands will tremble, by God."

Mohsin said, "My mother grinds mounds of wheat; her hands will not shake if she has to hold a little bat. She draws hundreds of buckets of water from the well every day; our buffalo alone drinks five buckets of water. Any mem will be reduced to tears if she were to lift a bucket of water from a well."

Mahmood: But our mothers cannot run, hop, or skip.

Mohsin: Yes, they cannot hop and jump. But the other day, our cow ran loose and entered Chaudhary's field. My mother ran so fast that I could not keep pace with her, by God.

As the group went farther, they came across a row of sweetmeat shops. The shops were especially decorated and illuminated today. Who can eat so much sweets? Just look, every shop has tonnes and tonnes of sweets. I have heard that djinns come late in the night and buy them off. Father says that a person goes to each and every shop at midnight and buys all the sweets that have remained unsold. He pays real money for them; exactly like the money we have.

Hamid was not convinced. From where could djinns get real money?

Djinns have no dearth of money. They can easily get money from anywhere; even iron doors cannot block their way, Mohsin argued. Mister, you are ignorant of their abilities. They have stores of diamonds and gemstones. If they are pleased with someone, they offer baskets laden with gemstones as gift. One moment they are here, and in five minutes they can reach Kolkata.

Hamid was curious. Are the djinns very tall? he asked.

Mohsin: Each of them is as tall as the sky. If they stand here on the ground, their heads touch the sky. But if they want they can make themselves so tiny that they can enter a small pot.

Hamid: How do people make djinns happy? If someone were to tell me that secret I will make one of them happy.

Mohsin: I don't know how this is done, but Chaudhary saheb has many djinns under his control. If there is a theft somewhere, Chaudhary saheb can at once tell where the stolen goods are hidden. He can even tell the names of the thieves. Jumrati's calf did not return home; it could not be found anywhere. Finally, Chaudhary saheb was approached. He, at once, informed that the calf could be found at the animal pound. And, true, it was there. The djinns come and tell him all that is happening in the world.

Now Hamid realised why Chaudhary had so much wealth, and why people respected him.

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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu