November 2013



Science: The ozone hole that forms each year in the stratosphere over Antarctica was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. Read more ....

At least 441 new species of animals and plants have been discovered over a four-year period in the vast,under-explored rainforest of the Amazon, including a monkey that purrs like a cat. Read more ....

Life-threatening blood clots can form in anyone who sits on a plane for a long time, is confined to bed while recovering from surgery, or takes certain medications. Read more .....

Examination of the Martian atmosphere by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover confirms that some meteorites that have dropped to Earth really are from the Red Planet. Read more ....

Planets rich in carbon, including so-called diamond planets, may lack oceans, according to NASA-funded theoretical research. Read more ....




6

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

The shop-keeper looked at him and seeing no elder person 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 in the shop?"

"Then, why don't you tell me how much do I have to pay for it?"

"Six paise."

Hamid was crest-fallen.

"Tell me the right price."

"Okay, I will sell it to you for five paise. Buy it if you want to, 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 snigger 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 snigger. 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 broke into laughter when he saw Hamid coming with the 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? He will be shattered to pieces if you do it."

Mahmood said, "But, a pair of tongs is 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 this, they will rub their noses on the ground. All your toys may try all their might against my tongs, but they will not be able to make even a scratch. This is my brave tiger - tongs.

Sammi had bought khanjari, a toy musical instrument. He was impressed and said, "Will you swap your tongs with my khanjari?"

Hamid looked at the khanjari with unseen eyes. "My tongs can tear your khanajari 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 rogue 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 strong steel, which was invincible. If a tiger appeared now, the water-man would be scared out of his wits, the policeman would scamper off leaving his rifle behind, and Mr 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 orders your water-man to bring water, he will run to obey the order."

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

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