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The Shroud

This is an image of Munshi Premchand This is a feeble translation of Kafan, a story by Munshi Premchand. Ghisu and Madhav are sitting outside their hut and eating potatoes, which they have stolen from somebody's field. Inside the hut, Madhav's wife is writhing in agony from labour pains. The father and son are certain that the woman will not survive. Yet, they remain sitting outside eating potatoes; Ghisu even narrates wistfully about a marriage feast he had attended twenty years ago. He describes in detail the food that was served at the feast. The father and son, after eating the potatoes, go to sleep. The woman dies and so does the child in her womb. The father and son collect money for the woman's funeral, but they spend the money on liqour. They bless the woman for providing them with a feast even in her death!

A very dark story that is sure to make the reader feel uncomfortable. It felt horrible when I first read this story in my school textbook many decades ago. What did the author wish to convey by writing such a dark story. I don't know. But it needs to be noted that this story was written in the pre-Independence era; those were the days of poverty, divisiveness, and inequality in the society. The author, at some point, even sympathizes with Ghisu and Madhav by stating that it was not surprising for such a mentality to germinate and grow in a society where despite working hard people could scarcely earn a better living than these two. It was not the farmers, but those who exploited the weaknesses of the farmers who were wealthy. The author goes on to say that Ghisu had more wisdom than the mindless farmers, and, so, instead of becoming a farmer had chosen to join the despicable group of idlers. But he lacked the skills of the idlers; so, while others from his group went on to become leaders and village heads, he was detested by the whole village. But, although he had to wear rags, he at least had the consolation that he did not have to slog like the farmers, and nobody could exploit him and take advantage of his helplessness.

Perhaps, that was the intention of the author - to make the readers feel uncomfortable, and to make them crave and strive for change.

(This story is being republished)

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Doing a Good Turn!

Funny picture of dog wearing a hat I was returning home from the office on my motorcycle when a pedestrian hailed me for a lift. Now, I consider myself to be a Good Samaritan; in school as a Boy Scout it was ingrained in my mind that I should try to do a good turn every day. On that particular day no opportunity had presented to me till that moment to do a good turn. So, when the man hailed me, I was more than happy to stop and offer him a lift. This was a decision I regretted later! While riding I prefer to keep my mouth shut and devote my whole-hearted attention to the road. But my pillion rider was a conversationalist who, it seemed, liked to talk. Within a few minutes, on being quizzed by the man, I told him my name, my address, where I worked, my family background, when had I purchased the motorcycle, what was its mileage, how much salary I earned… almost everything about myself. The man, a complete stranger at that, thought nothing improper about asking me personal questions.

(This story is being republished)

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Adding Alphabets

This is an alphametic puzzle This appears to be a simple addition. But, wait! Where are the numbers that are to be added? I was under the impression that arithmetic operations can be done only with numbers. But here I have all A's, B's and C's. I believe the A's, B's and C's represent different numbers. Can you tell me what numbers they represent?

(This puzzle is being republished)

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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