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Elder brother

Picture of Munshi Premchand This is only a poor translation of "Bade Bhai Sahab" by Munshi Premchand; the objective is merely to exhort readers to read the original story or better translations. This is a humorous story, but with a few takeaways. The narrator of the story begins by telling how his elder brother though older than him by five years is only three grades above in school. The narrator thinks that his elder brother has repeated grades in order to build a strong educational foundation. The narrator likes to play; he doesn't like to study and yet he not only passes his examinations but passes with flying colours! The elder brother, on the other hand, studies and studies and yet fails! The elder brother blames the education system, which is biased towards rote learning, for his failures. I think that is the first takaway from this story: the bias towards rote learning. The elder brother has to act an elder brother because he is five years older than the narrator! The younger brother has to act a younger brother because he is five years younger! All this role playing has, I think, deprived the elder brother of his childhood. He cannot fly kites and he cannot play; he must study all day long so as to set an example for the younger brother. It would have been so much better if the brothers had been good friends rather than trying to play their younger brother and elder brother roles to perfection! I think that's another takeaway from the story. The end of the story, on first reading, seems kind of abrupt. But, I think it holds a deeper meaning. The elder brother is reprimanding the younger brother for wasting his time chasing kites. The younger brother admits his mistake; this admittance softens the elder brother and he probably feels he has discharged his duties well by sermonizing the younger brother. Pleased with himself for thoroughly advising his younger brother, the elder brother now opens his own heart. The elder brother is, after all, a child himself! He confesses that he too wishes to fly kites. That confession breaks the ice! Just then a kite whose line had been cut in a duel sails above the heads of the brothers. A piece of string is still attached to the kite. The elder brother is quite tall; he leaps and catches hold of the string, and then he dashes off with the prize. He has got back his childhood!

(This story is being republished)

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Mr Elphinstone, I presume?

Funny picture of dog wearing a hat "Are you Mr Elphinstone?" The question surprised me. To be mistaken for Mr Elphinstone! That was indeed surprising. I am dark-skinned, of medium height by Indian standards, and regret to say that I have a personality which does not attract attention. In the midst of a crowd I shall certainly to go un-noticed; but even when standing apart from the crowd, I am more likely to be ignored. The name Elphinstone has an aristocratic ring to it: a name that stares at you mostly from history books. To tell you the truth, I therefore felt quite important to be mistaken for Elphinstone! I thought I had been unfair to myself all these years ..... I had un-necessarily blamed Nature for creating me in a hurry. No, I was wrong. I did, indeed, have an impressive personality!

(This story is being republished)

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There's a catch somewhere!

Math puzzle "I can prove that 1 = 2," my friend declared. Now, math has always been my weak spot, and I wasn't very keen on listening to his rambling. "I will give you a treat if you catch the error," he said. That caught my attention. My stomach is also my weak spot, and it always demands something or the other. "Okay, go ahead," I said. "Even with my poor knowledge of math I am sure I can detect any error if somebody tries to prove that 1 = 2," I said. "Let x = y," he began. I liked that; it was familiar ground. In class, the teacher always told us something of that kind. "But, remember that x is not equal to zero," he added. My friend went on to do some multiplication on both sides, subtraction, factorization, and division, and, indeed, came up with 1 = 2. I could see nothing wrong in any of the steps! But, of course, 1 cannot be equal to 2; there had to be a catch somewhere. Please help me find the error.

(This puzzle had been carried before and is being republished)

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