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Artifice!

Sunday saw me translating a story by Munshi Premchand. It was a clumsy translation as always owing to my poor linguistic skills.

But I really enjoyed the story. "Kaushal" tells the story of a woman who yearns for a necklace but her husband cannot buy her one. Actually, if the husband takes upon himself to work some more he can easily make enough money to purchase the piece of jewellery. However, the husband is lazy and avoids work like plague. The wife pulls a fast one on the husband and gets her necklace (you will have to read that story to find out how she does it). I rolled on the floor laughing at how the woman outwitted her husband. "What a fellow to be taken in so easily!" I said to myself, "I shan't allow anyone to pull the wool over my eyes."

Still smirking at the man's foolishness, I decided to do some work (I can't remember when I had last taken such a noble decision). So, there I was with a broom in hand sweeping away the dry leaves in the courtyard.

A man on a scooter rode past. But, after riding a few metres, he halted, turned back, and came up to me.

"Hi, do you recognize me?" he asked.

I was absolutely certain I had not seen the man before. But I have a penchant for forgetting names and faces; "I must have met him before," I thought to myself trying hard to recall. The man was in his mid fifties. He had a graying beard, and appeared portly giving the impression he enjoyed his meals. The scooter was sleek and tidy. Overall, I felt it would be embarrassing to acknowledge that I did not recognize him.

However, after racking my brains and not finding any image of his residing in the recesses of my mind, I dumbly shook my head sideways to indicate I did not recognize him.

"I live here," he pointed his hand in some direction and even offered a name. The name did not strike any chord.

"My wife has met with an accident, and I need some money," he said. Suddenly realization began to dawn on me but I could not be absolutely certain.

"I need 500 rupees immediately, and I will return the amount within a few hours," he said.

Although I did not recognize him I at once recognized his intentions. But there was a nagging doubt, "What if he is really telling the truth?"

That one per cent belief that he was telling the truth over-rode the 99 per cent conviction that he was a cheat, and I decided to give him the money. What if I was really acquainted with him? I might have forgotten his face.

So, I went inside to get the amount. It was not a big amount really and I could risk being cheated rather than have my conscience hurt me for days if I did not help him. The man followed me inside very confidently as if he was familiar with my house. I removed all the money in my trousers pocket - there were around 600 rupees. As I was counting out the 500 rupees, he just grabbed the entire amount including the small denomination notes. "Let me have the whole amount, I don't know how much I will need," he said. "I will be back within a few hours," he said and went out.

This, of course, removed even the one per cent conviction I had, and I was now absolutely certain he had pulled a fast one on me. But the man went about the task so confidently that the thought he must indeed be an acquaintance still persisted. I could easily have taken down the registration number of the man's scooter, but I was so carried away by his story and poise that this thought never occurred to me then.

So much for my resolve not to allow anyone to pull wool over my eyes. If the man in Munshi Premchand's story were to read this, it would be his turn to roll on the floor laughing!

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