Kedar felt his throat go dry. Champa, who usually had a way with words, also felt at a loss; she had not expected a rustic like Madhav to drive a hard bargain. She looked at him with new-found respect and said, "Sometimes you speak like a boy; who will lend 100 rupees for this hut? Let alone 125 rupees, if you find someone who is willing to give even 100 rupees, I will sell off my portion too; I have an equal share in this house. You will get 80 rupees and no more for your hut. As for the remaining amount, we will manage that on our own. Your honour is not separate from ours. The remaining amount will be recorded separately.

Madhav's desires were fulfilled. He had carried the day. He wanted 125 rupees and that's what he would get; it hardly mattered whether the amount was recorded in one ledger or ten. He went away satisfied and determined not to surrender the house ever.

After Madhav had left, Keshav and Champa discarded their cloaks of pretension, and engaged in a heated discussion as to who between them was responsible for the bad deal. Finally, they took solace in the fact that although the food might not be tasty, they were after all receiving a full plate. Yes, now we will see how Shyama rules in the house!

Kedar had two oxen; there was much affection between the two. The only relationship that bound them was that they had to walk yoked together. When one of them was loaned to Champa's parents for a few days, the other was so distressed that it did not touch food for three days. But, unfortunately, two brothers who had played together at their mother's knees were today so distant from each other that it was torture for them to live in the same house!

In the morning Kedar had important visitors to his house including the village headman and the numberdar, a powerful village authority. Data Dayal, the scribe, sat on a cot looking very important and was engaged in preparing a draft for the mortgage deed; he frequently sharpened his quill and tested the writing but each time was dis-satisfied with the result. Kedar and Champa were in high spirits; Madhav appeared gloomy.

The village headman said, "There can be no greater friend than a brother, and, then, there can be no greater enemy than a brother. Kedar has saved his younger brother from falling into disgrace."

The numberdar agreed. "Yes, a true brother indeed!"

The attorney said, "This is how noble sons behave."

Data Dayal was ready with his quill. "What is the full name of the mortgagor?" he demanded to know.

"Madhav, son of Shivdutta," the elder brother answered.

"What is the full name of the mortgagee?"

"Kedar, son of Shivdutta."

Madhav looked at his elder brother in surprise; his eyes were filled with tears. Kedar avoided Madhav's eyes. The numberdar, village headman and the attorney were taken aback. Was Kedar himself lending the money? There was supposed to be the involvement of a money-lender. If there was money already in the house, where then was the need for a mortgage deed! So much distrust between brothers! Was Madhav worth less than 80 rupees!

All the people present began exchanging glances with one another; it was as though numerous boats bobbed in a river of amazement.

Shyama was standing at the door; she had always respected her brother-in-law. But, today, only morality prevented her from rushing towards Kedar and abusing him.

When the old mother heard, she wept. She lifted her head to the sky once and, then, slapped her forehead in grief. She remembered that long years ago, on pleasant sunny mornings like today, she used to take two dear boys on her knees and feed them with bread and milk. There used to be pride in her eyes then, and joy in her heart. But, today! The same eyes are filled with shame, and the same heart was filled with grief. She looked down at the earth and complained timorously, "Oh God! Why did you choose me to give birth to such sons?"


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