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"How much for this pair of tongs?" Hamid asked the shop-keeper.

The shop-keeper looked at him and seeing no grown-up with the boy said, "This is of no use to you."

"Is it for sale?"

"Of course it is for sale; why else have I displayed it?"

"Then, why don't you tell me how much does it cost?"

"Six paise."

Hamid was crest-fallen.

"Tell me the correct price."

"Okay, I will sell it to you for five paise. Buy it if you want, else be off with you."

Hamid mustered up courage and asked, "Will you take three paise for it?"

Hamid was afraid that the shop-keeper might shout at him for wanting to buy the pair of tongs for three paise. So he started to walk away. But the shop-keeper did not shout. Instead, he called the boy and accepted the offer. Hamid held the pair of tongs like a rifle and walked up to his companions feeling very proud.

Let's hear what the others have to say:

Mohsin laughed when he saw Hamid coming with the pair of tongs. "Why have you bought this, you madcap? What will you do with it?"

Hamid flung the tongs hard on the ground. Can you do this with your water-man? Every bone in the fellow's body will be shattered to pieces if you do it."

Mahmood said, "But, this is a pair of tongs; not a toy."

"Hamid; Why not a toy? See, if I hold it over my shoulders, it becomes a rifle. If I take it in my hands, it becomes an ascetic's cymbals. If I hit your toys with my tongs they will perish. Your toys might try their hardest, but they can't harm a hair on my tongs' head. This pair of tongs is my brave tiger.

Sammi had bought a khanjari (a small tambourine). He was impressed and said, "Will you swap your tongs with my khanjari? It cost me two annas."

Hamid looked at the khanjari with unseen eyes. "My tongs can tear your khanjari apart. Your khanjari will be spoilt if it gets wet. My brave pair of tongs can withstand fire, water, and storms."

Everyone was now convinced of the tongs' prowess. But they had exhausted their money and, besides, they had left the fair grounds far behind. The blazing sun was beating down on them mercilessly. All that the boys now desired was to reach their homes as soon as possible. They were unlikely to get a pair of tongs even if they pleaded with their fathers. Hamid is really cunning. The rascal had purposely saved his money to buy the tongs.

Now the boys were divided into two groups - one group comprised Mohsin, Mahmood, Sammi and Nooray, and the other group had Hamid as its sole member. There was a heated discussion among the members of the bigger group, and Sammi defected to Hamid's side. Mohsin, Mahmood, and Nooray, were older than Hamid by a year or two, but Hamid's assault had left them terrified. He had justice and morality on his side. On one side was a handful of clay, and on the other side was cast iron, which now posed itself as invincible steel. If a tiger were to appear now, the water-man would be scared out of his wits, the policeman would scamper off leaving his rifle behind, and mister lawyer was likely to lie down prostrate on the ground hiding his face in his coat. But this pair of tongs, this Rustam-e-Hind (unconquerable wrestler), will fly at the tiger and gouge out its eyes.

Mohsin tried to find fault with the tongs. "But your tongs cannot fetch water."

Hamid placed his pair of tongs upright and said, "If my tongs order your water-man to fetch water, he will hurry to obey."

Mohsin was defeated. Mahmood tried to save the day, "Boy, if you get arrested you will have to come to the lawyer for help."


Some useful links for
your career:

  • 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