It was 8 pm by the time Pandit Moteram had completed his ablutions and worship. "We must not dally any longer. Is the appetizer ready?"

Sona: "I prepared the appetizer long ago; you don't pay attention to anything. Why do you have to offer worship for such a long time in the evening? No one is going to come at this time and take notice of your worship."

Moteram: "I have told you a hundred times not to poke your nose into my affairs. You won't understand why I purposely delayed; God has not given you any wisdom. It is not wise to go early; people take you for a greedy person. Wise people go late; this causes the host to think that Panditji must have forgotten all about the invitation, and someone ought to go to his house to fetch him. That enhances your prestige. I am waiting for somebody to come and escort me; someone is sure to come. Give me some appetizer; have the children eaten their share?

Sona: "They ate their share long ago."

Moteram: "I hope no one has fallen asleep."

Sona: "Who will fall asleep today! All of them are feeling hungry, so I gave them some snacks. Can't you hear them squabbling over the snacks?"

Moteram gritted his teeth. "Why did you give them snacks now? If they have snacks how will they be able to eat at the feast? Bah! You don't have the slightest intelligence!"

Sona admitted her lapse. "Yes, it was a mistake. But they were creating such a row that I had to give them something."

Moteram: "You should have let them cry; crying improves the appetite."

Just then someone called from outside, "Panditji, the rani-sahiba has summoned you; come quickly, along with the others."

Panditji looked at his wife with pride shining in his eyes. "See, that's the way to attend a feast. We must get ready now."

Panditji came out and told the man, "I had completely forgotten about the feast; if you had come a little later you would not have found me home. I was about to leave for some other place to deliver a discourse."

It was 9 pm when Pandit Moteram and his children arrived at rani-sahiba's home. The rani-sahiba was a towering woman with an impressive personality. She was sitting on a cot with elegant cushions around her; two servants stood behind in attendance. The electric fan was revolving overhead. The rani-sahiba touched Panditji's feet and, looking at the children, inquired smilingly, "From where did you pick these children?"

Moteram: "What could I do? I searched the entire city but no pandit agreed to come; all of them had prior engagements. This put me in an inconvenient situation. Then I thought of a way out; I told them that it was alright if they could not come but they must send their sons along; that way I can save my face. So, I brought along a son from the home of each pandit I visited. Fekuram, what is your father's name?" The last question was directed at Fekuram.

"Pandit Sethuram Pathak," Fekuram replied with some pride.

Rani-sahiba: "The child seems to be very bright."

The praise heaped on Fekuram made the other boys feel jealous; they too wanted to be tested so that they could show off their knowledge. But when Panditji did not ask them to tell their father's name, they became rather impatient and, without waiting to be asked, offered to tell on their own accord. "My father's name is Pandit Gangu Pande," Bhavani said.

Chedi said, "My father's name is Damri Tiwari."

"My father's name is Pandit Mangru Ozha," Beniram informed.

Alguram was a sensible boy; he stood quietly. The rani-sahiba asked him, "What is your father's name?"

Alguram could not recollect the name just then; it also did not occur to him to blurt out a name of his own invention. He stood dumbfounded. When Pandit Moteram glared at him, the boy lost all his composure.

Fekuram came to his brother's rescue, "Shall I tell? Brother has forgotten the name."

The rani-sahiba was surprised. "He has forgotten his father's name! This is ridiculous!"

Moteram went near Algu and whispered, "It starts with a K." Algu instantly remembered it and said, "Keshav Pande."

Rani-sahiba: "Why were you silent for so long?"

Moteram explained on behalf of the boy, "He is slightly hard of hearing."

Rani-sahiba: "I have ordered a lot of things, but what can these boys eat! Everything will be wasted."

Moteram: "Don't think they are mere children; the youngest of them can eat two platefuls."

When food was served in silver platters, Pandit Moteram was delighted beyond words. He was often invited to feasts but such sumptuous food had never been served anywhere else nor had he smelt such rich aroma of pure ghee. Panditji thought to himself, "I can eat tons and tons of this food and yet yearn for more. You cannot imagine anything better than this."

Pandit Moteram thought of his old friend Chintamani, and regretted not having brought him along. It would have added to the enjoyment had he been present. There is no one else with whom I can compete; the boys will call it quits after two platefuls; Sona may give company for a little while longer, but how long! If Chintamani had been present he would have challenged me and I would have taken up the challenge, and the boys would have followed our example. Oh, what a mistake! I should have thought of this before.


Some useful links for
your career:

  • 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