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The old aunt

Picture of Munshi Premchand This is a poor translation of "Boodhi Kaki", a story by Munshi Premchand. The objective is merely to exhort readers to read the original story or a better translation. This is a touching tale of an old woman, and the travails of the elderly. Kaki's husband and sons have died, and she has no one in the world to take care of her other than a nephew. The nephew and his wife behaved very well with the aunt initially, and the trusting old woman bequeathed her property to them. But the behaviour of the nephew and his wife towards the aunt changed after acquiring her property - they now looked upon her as a burden, and neglected her. Old age, it is said, is return of the childhood. Just as children are helpless and dependent upon their parents, old people too feel helpless and need to be taken care of by their relatives. Physical frailty, loss of hearing, poor eyesight, walking difficulty; these are some of the problems which elderly people have to cope with. Deprived of the joys of life, old people start craving for certain things just like children. In the case of Kaki, she craved for food. The nephew and his wife did not provide a full meal to the old woman although they enjoyed her property! A feast has been hosted for the pre-wedding ceremony of the nephew's eldest son. Sumpuous food is being cooked for the guests. The rich aroma is so tempting that the aunt dares to take a peek into the kitchen. She is insulted by the nephew's wife. The aunt goes back to her room, but gnawing hunger draws her back to the kitchen after a while. This time, the nephew insults her and even treats her cruelly. The aunt is forgotten. The guests have departed after the meals, the family members have eaten their food, but the aunt is ignored and goes without food. There is someone who feels sorry for the old woman; it is Ladli, the nephew's daughter. Ladli has removed a portion of her own food for the old woman. It is past midnight, and everyone is sleeping. Ladli creeps out of the bed and carries the food to the aunt. But the little food that Ladli had saved for the old woman could hardly satiate the aunt's hunger. She asks Ladli to guide her to the spot where the guests had disposed their plates. Ladli cannot understand the meaning behind this strange request and she guides the woman to the spot. The old woman's hunger is so intense that she starts eating the leftover food! In the meanwhile, the nephew's wife wakes up and witnesses this poignant scene. The nephew's wife, a god-fearing woman, is stunned at the sight of the old woman scavenging for food! For the first time she realises how cruel they have been on the aunt despite enjoying her property.

(This story is being republished)

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Perfect gentlemen!

Funny picture of dog wearing a hat Many, many years ago, I was young. And like most youngsters I aspired to join the armed forces as an officer after graduation. The selection process was rigorous. The candidates had to appear for a written examination first, and those short-listed in the written examination had to appear before a Services Selection Board (SSB) for further four days of physical and psychological tests, and a personal interview. Now, the written examination wasn't that tough, and I cleared it. The next step was to face the SSB (by the way, the four days of physical and psychological tests are real fun). The SSB where I had to appear was in Allahabad. When I reached Allahabad, there were others like me who had come from across the country. We came from different states but we could easily gel with one another because we were young; friendships were struck on the spot at the railway station. Excepting a few, none of us was timid. There were a lot of backslapping and use of swear words (in good humour, of course) from the moment of introduction. We were a boisterous lot; what could you expect from a bunch of youngsters fresh out of college?

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Great runner!

Pluto and Buzo playing I have two dogs - Pluto and Buzo. The pup, Buzo, is a great runner. One day, I was walking home with Pluto and Buzo (both on leash) at a steady four kilometers per hour. But Buzo is really mischievous; he strained and strained at the leash because of which I found it impossible to manage both the dogs. With six kilometers to walk, I had to let Buzo off the leash. Buzo at once ran all the way home at six kilometers per hour. He, then, turned back and returned to us at the same speed. Immediately upon reaching us, Buzo once again turned back and ran home. And, then, back he came to us. Buzo continued this back-and-forth run at the same speed of six kilometers per hour. Pluto and I continued to walk at the speed of four kilometers per hour. Can you tell me the total distance Buzo had run since he was let off the leash?

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

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  • 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