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Lalu

(This is a feeble translation of a story by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay)

As a child I had a friend; his name was Lalu. That was long, long ago! We were in the same grade in a small school. We were ten or eleven years old at that time. Lalu's head was always full of schemes to scare people; he was adept in that skill. Once he placed a rubber snake near his unwary mother and scared her so much that she sprained her ankle and walked with a limp for seven-eight days. she was very angry and wanted to appoint a tutor who could come in the evening and teach; if Lalu was thus kept engaged in studies he wouldn't find time to play pranks.

Lalu's father was, however, against this suggestion. He, himself, had never had a tutor; he had established himself as a successful lawyer through his own efforts and after much hardships and struggle. He wanted his son also to obtain education in the same manner rather than being spoon-fed. But father, while providing a temporary reprieve to Lalu, placed a condition: He warned that a private tutor would be appointed if Lalu failed to stand first in his class. Although Lalu was lucky enough on that occasion to get away with only a rebuke, he was angry at his mother for trying to burden his shoulders with a tutor; he knew that appointing a tutor was as bad as summoning the police.

Lalu's father was a rich man. Few years ago he had pulled down the old house and constructed a three-storied house in its place. Since then, Lalu's mother nursed a desire that her spiritual master come to the house and bless the family. But the master was an old man, and he did not wish to undertake the long journey from Faridpur where he lived. However an opportunity presented itself now; the master was in Kashi to perform some religious rites and had written a letter from there stating he would visit the house on his way back to Faridpur. Lalu's mother, Nondorani, was overjoyed and she began preparations to receive the honoured guest. After a long time her heart's desire was set to be fulfilled; the master was coming to bless the family; the master's presence will render the house auspicious.

The hall on the ground floor was made ready for the master's stay. A new bed was purchased for the master. Arrangements were made at one corner of the hall to allow the master to offer worship since, owing to his age, he would find it difficult to climb up to the third floor where the worship room was situated.

The master arrived a few days later. But, unfortunately, the day of his arrival was marked by stormy weather - the sky was covered with layers and layers of dark clouds and torrential rains raged showing not the least sign of abating.

Lalu's mother was very busy in preparing food and she hardly had a moment's respite; however, in the midst of her work she, personally, came and arranged the master's bed and set up the mosquito net. The conversation flowed late into the evening; the master, after his tiring journey, had an early dinner and retired to bed. The servants went back to their quarters. Stretching himself on the soft comfortable bed, the gratified master blessed and thanked Nondorani in his mind for her service.

But late into the night he woke up suddenly. Raindrops, leaking through the roof and penetrating the mosquito net were trickling on his enormous belly. Oh, how cold was the water! He emerged out of the mosquito net, wiped the water off his belly, and addressing Nondorani in his mind muttered, "You have constructed a new house Nondorani, but the roof seems to have cracked already."

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  • 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