Spattered by a Car

(It proved to be an inauspicious day for the brahmin pandit who was on his way to advise a client on an auspicious day for a wedding.

"Motor ke Chhinte" is a short humorous story by Munshi Premchand. The story tells about the extreme anger experienced by a brahmin pandit when a car runs over a puddle of water and splashes muddy water over him. Many, who have faced similar situations themselves, are likely to appreciate how shashtriji went about taking his revenge.

To start with, shashtriji had plenty of reasons to be in a good mood. He had been invited by a client to decide an auspicious day for a wedding. He would certainly get a silver rupee as a consulation fee, and there would be a free and sumptuous breakfast. The thought of a silver rupee and good food was likely to make anyone happy.

It had rained heavily the night before and there were puddles of water on the road. As shashtriji walked to his client's house immersed in pleasant thoughts, a car ran over a puddle and splashed muddy water over him. His clothes were ruined. He could not go to the client's house in such a state; he had come a long way from home and it was not possible to return and change; onlookers were clapping in glee. Shashtriji had never suffered such humiliation before. Shashtriji decided at once that it was his duty to teach these errant motorists a lesson.)

Early in the morning, after bathing and saying my prayers, I applied sandalwood paste mark on my forehead, donned my yellow robe, slipped my feet into the wooden sandals, tucked 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 day for a wedding; the consultation promised to make me richer by at least one silver rupee. And, then, there would be the breakfast. My breakfast is no ordinary breakfast; the clerks think twice before inviting me - their breakfast for a whole month is a one-time meal for me! 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 to meals only after gauging the generosity of the clients. I lose my appetite if someone invites me to a meal, 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 the night before and there were puddles of water on the road. As I was walking, immersed in my thoughts, a car whizzed past through the puddles. I felt a few drops of water on my face, and looking down at my dhoti saw that it was splattered with muddy water. My clothes were dirty, my body was filthy, and I had suffered 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. Well, well, it looked like the same car; the driver must be returning after picking up his 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, executed such a skillful maneuver that he fell down in the puddle. I quickly seized this opportunity. Sitting on his chest I delivered at least 25 blows in quick succession which left him dazed. Meanwhile, his wife alighted from the car. She wore high-heeled sandals, lipstick, and a silk saree. She had powdered her face and had 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 reached for my stick. "Madam, you had better not interfere in matters of men; I will feel very sorry if you get hurt," I told her.

Now it was the sahib's turn to seize the opportunity. Finding my attention diverted he got up and aimed a kick at my knee. It hurt! Taken aback by the sudden attack, I picked up my stick and hit the sahib hard on his leg; he dropped like a felled tree. The memsahib brandished her umbrella and made for me. I calmly snatched the umbrella and flung it aside. The chauffeur had remained in the car all this while; he alighted now and charged at me with a cane. I hit him with my stick and he returned to the car. Quite a crowd had gathered around us to watch the fun. The sahib, still lying on the ground, said, "Rascal, I will have you arrested."

I picked up my stick once again intending to whack the sahib on the head. He folded his hands submissively and said, "No, no. Don't hit me. I will not go to the police. Forgive me."

"Don't you ever talk of handing me over to the police, else I will crack your skull," I told him. "At most, I will be jailed for six months, but I will make sure you mend your ways. You splash muddy water over people while driving your car; your pride has made you so blind that you ignore the pedestrians."

An onlooker said, "You did the right thing, sir; these car owners purposely splash muddy water over others just for fun and, then, laugh at the discomfiture of their victims. You have done the right thing by teaching a lesson to one of them."

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