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The woman was overjoyed when she saw me; her ecstasy was no less than the joy of a washerman who has found his lost donkey. You can imagine the fright I received; my state of mind was similar to that of the donkey's.
"Fie, sir! Fie! You changed residence in such haste that no one even got to know. There are quite a few good vacant houses in the neighbourhood. How was I to know that the house where you lived was not to your liking! There is a big vacant house behind my shop. I will not allow you to stay here; I will carry you away. How much rent do you pay here?" the woman directed this torrent even before she had reached me.
"Ten rupees," I replied with a woebegone expression on my face.
The rent agreed upon was twenty rupees; one does not even get a burial space for ten rupees! But I thought if I lied to the paan seller and told her I paid only ten rupees, she would not be able to find me a cheaper house in the old locality. But the strategy failed; she was not the least ruffled.
"Ten rupees! You pay ten rupees for this small room! You have to pay only eight rupees for the house I am talking about; if you don't like the place, you may leave any time. Come, I have brought the keys of the house along with me. I will show you the house directly."
"I have changed residence only today; how can I leave immediately?" I asked. "Besides, I have made an advance payment for the rent."
Smiling coyly, the woman said, "Oh, you have paid only ten rupees. That's a small amount for you. But if you don't come back, my business will suffer, and I will be ruined. You have brought me loads and loads of good luck; whenever I sell the first paan of the day to you, I am assured of good business throughout the day! If you don't come, I will move my shop here!"
I was disheartened. What if the woman did move her shop! I wanted to give her a tongue-lashing, but the tongue refused to be unkind. I made one last-ditch effort, "I lead a very unpredictable life; I cannot say for sure how long I will remain at one place, I can be transferred at a moment's notice."
"But you have not been transferred yet."
"Life is uncertain."
"Then, I will come here every day and bring a paan for you."
"You will walk such a long distance every day?"
"It is hardly two miles. I must sell the first paan of the day to you under any circumstances. By the way, here is your paan; please accept it as the first customer."
I took the paan, paid her for it, and went and lay on the charpoy feeling miserable.
I have been trying to think of ways to get out of this troublesome situation. But my brain refuses to function. I can see no escape. I wish to live a peaceful life, but I don't want to be unkind to anyone. I will forever remain indebted to any person who can show me a way out of this hopeless situation.
Some useful links for
- 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