2

"Did you hear what the public says?" I asked the sahib. The sahib looked at the onlooker with blood-shot eyes and said, "You are lying; that is a lie."

"Seems as though you have not learned your lesson; do you want me to give you one more with my stick," I said.

This brought him to his senses, "Oh no! He is telling the truth. Are you happy now?"

A second onlooker put in, "He is only pretending to be repentant now, but once he goes back to his car he will revert to his old ways. These car owners think they belong to the nobility."

A third onlooker said, "Ask him to spit on the road and, then, make him lick it."

A fourth suggested, "No, ask him to hold his ears and do squats."

A fifth: "And, the chauffeur too; these chauffeurs are also rascals. It is one thing when rich people act haughtily but why do their chauffeurs behave in the same way? Once they have their hands on the steering wheel, a veil drops over their eyes!"

This suggestion appealed to me. Both the car owner and the chauffeur must do squats while holding their own ears; memsahib will count. Listen, memsahib, you have to count. They have to do a hundred squats, not a squat less; of course, they can do more than a hundred squats if they wish to.

Two onlookers grabbed the sahib by his hands and pulled him up, two others brought the driver. The chauffeur had hurt his leg, but the poor fellow began doing the squats. The sahib was still hoity-toity; he lay on the ground muttering to himself. I was in an unrelenting mood; I had resolved not to allow the sahib to go until he had done a hundred squats. I asked four of the onlookers to push the car off the road. The onlookers were only too eager to obey. Instead of the four whom I had asked, there were fifty people who put their hands to the car to push it off the road. The road was at a level higher than the ground; if the car dropped over the edge to the ground, it would have been wrecked. The mob had shoved the car almost to the edge of the road when the sahib got up in a hurry and said, "Leave the car alone; I will do the squats."

I told the people to stop shoving the car. But they were so engrossed in the jest that they paid me no heed. It is only after I chased them with the stick that they scattered. The sahib closed his eyes and began doing the squats. After ten squats I asked the memsahib, "How many squats has he done?"

"I am not counting," the memsahib replied haughtily.

"Then, he will have to do the squats all through the day. If you want to take him home in good shape, you must count to a hundred; only then will I allow him to go," I told her.

The sahib rightly surmised that there was no redemption for him until he had served his punishment and, so, started doing the squats in earnest - one, two, three, four, five.

Just then another car was seen approaching. When the sahib saw the car he pleaded, "Panditji, you are like my father. Have mercy on me. I promise I will never sit in a car again." I felt sorry for him and said, "I am not stopping you from sitting in a car; all that I ask is that while riding in a car you must treat others as human beings too."

The other car was approaching quite fast. I signaled following which the others picked up two or three pebbles each. The car was being driven not by a chauffeur but by the owner himself; the car owner wanted to slow down and quietly sneak away. I went up to him and catching hold of both his ears tugged at them hard; I, then, slapped him on both sides of his face and warned, "Don't you dare to splash muddy water over pedestrians. Drive carefully and go your way without inconveniencing others." The man kept muttering under his breath but perceiving a hundred people, each with a pebble or two in his hand, thought it wise to leave immediately.

A minute later another car arrived. I asked the men to block the car's path. The car halted. I bid farewell to this man also after slapping him on the face. But he was a decent man and suffered the slaps without a word of protest.

Suddenly one person called out a warning, "The police are coming."

In a flash, all the people disappeared. I, too, stepped down the road, slinked into a lane, and made myself scarce.

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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
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  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
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  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
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  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
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  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
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