Spattered by a car
(This is a feeble translation of 'Motor ke chhinte' a story by Munshi Premchand. The story is about a priest who sets out for a client's house to advise on an auspicious day for a wedding. On the way, a car splashes muddy water over the priest and as a result he is unable to keep his appointment. Of course, this causes a financial loss to the priest because he stands to lose his consulting fee. The priest is angry and takes upon himself the task of correcting the behaviour of car drivers.)
After completing my morning ablutions and prayers, I applied a sandalwood paste mark on my forehead, donned my yellow garment, slipped my feet into the wooden sandals, thrust an almanac under my arm, picked up a thick stick that was guaranteed to break the skull of any enemy, and set out to keep an appointment at a client's house. He wanted to consult me on an auspicious wedding day, and it promised to be a profitable affair. Over and above there was an invitation to lunch. My lunch is no ordinary lunch; the "babus" think twice before inviting me to a meal - I can eat in a day what they have for breakfast for an entire month! In this regard I must say that merchants and money-lenders are very generous - they feed you so well and with such an open heart that it is sheer bliss! I accept invitations only after gauging the generosity of the clients. I lose my appetite if someone invites me to lunch but serves me food wearing a mournful look on his face. I cannot digest such a meal. A proper host is one who keeps insisting, "Here, Shashtriji, have one more sweet" and I have to say unwillingly, "No, thanks. I have had enough."
It had rained heavily during the night and there were puddles of water all over the road. Immersed deep in my thoughts I walked unmindful of the world around me when a car passed by driving over the puddles. I felt a few drops of water on my face, and looking down at my "dhoti" saw it was splattered with muddy water. My clothes were dirty, my body was filthy and I had incurred a financial loss. If only I could catch hold of the driver now, I would have given him a piece of my mind. I felt depressed. It was impossible to visit the client's house in this state, and I had come almost a mile away from my own home. Adding insult to injury were the passers-by who clapped their hands in glee at my sight. Such a misfortune had never befallen me before! What was to be done? The wife was sure to make some caustic remarks if I returned home in this state.
I quickly decided on a plan of action. I gathered ten to twelve pebbles from the road and lay in wait for another car to pass by. I was seething in rage. Hardly had ten minutes passed when I saw another car approaching. It looked like the same car - the driver must be returning after picking up the master from the railway station. When the car came nearer, I let one of the pebbles fly; I had applied all the force at my disposal to achieve a perfect throw. The pebble whizzed past and did its duty - the sahib's hat came off his head and now lay on the road. The car slowed down. I let another pebble fly. It shattered the window glass; a splinter hit the sahib on the face and he began to bleed. The car stopped and the sahib came towards me with clenched fists, "You pig, I will hand you over to the police." The instant these words came out of his mouth I threw down the almanac and the stick on the road, and catching the sahib by the waist I executed such a skillful maneuver that he fell down in the puddle. I quickly seized this opportunity; sitting on his chest I smacked him at least 25 times on his neck in quick succession which left him dazed. Meanwhile, his wife alighted from the car. She wore high-heeled sandals and lipstick, had powdered her face, was draped in a silk saree, and applied mascara to her eyelashes. She came up to me and began jabbing me with her umbrella. I stopped paying attention to the sahib and turned towards her, "Madam, you had better not interfere in matters pertaining to men; I will feel very sorry if you get hurt."