can we do now?" said a peasant one day to his wife. He was apparently in
despair. He had a little paddy in surplus but there was nobody prepared
to purchase it even at a throw-away price. Times appeared to be really
very bad for agriculturists, for he saw no means of repaying the debts
he had incurred during the year. But even his sagacious wife could offer
no ready solution for his difficulties.
They at last
decided to send their son to the city as a domestic servant. "Let him at
least be free," said the peasant, "of the demands of the money-lender or
the vagaries of the floods." His wife nodded her head but apparently she
was hesitant. At last the inevitable step was taken. Tender love for the
child welled up in the mother's breast but in the face of stern realities
she found consolation in the hope that the boy would be able to lead a
better life in the city and before long pull his parents out of their difficulty.
She accordingly baked a couple of loaves of maize for his journey which
together with a plentiful helping of beans he wrapped in a piece of cloth.
Dressed in a coarse woollen pheran, a skull cap on his head and
grass sandals on his feet he set out for the city with a blanket on his
In the city
he met a sympathetic employer who engaged him as a domestic servant for
just a pittance. The boy appeared to be intelligent, for not only did he
satisfy the master and mistress of the house but also managed to pick up
the rudiments of literacy by association with their eldest son who had
some books and went to school. The master was an official in the local
young servant carried his lunch to his office and returned home every afternoon
loaded with office files which his master attended to at home. After a
year or so the master found that the boy could help him by copying out
portions of his files. He was surprised at his quick grasp and intelligence
and found it useful to encourage his talent.
time the master managed to secure for his servant the patronage of the
the peasant's son was accepted as a stipendiary in the tehsil.
belonged to a cadre of service where no regular salary was budgetted but
certain emoluments were paid. Such stipendiaries established their prior
claim for appointment as regular employees. The peasant's son, therefore,
considered himself fortunate in having come within the pale of future government
employees. His parents in the village were really happy to get the news.
"I always believed that the boy would bring name and fame to his parents,"
said his mother. His father commended his intelligence.
In a few months
this particular stipendiary picked up many intricate problems of revenue
accounts which always defy systematization. By this time, the waziriwazarat
on an inspection of the tehsil and sought clarification on several
points from his subordinate officer. The latter asked his accountants and
clerks to explain matters. Though many intricacies were smoothed out one
or two still seemed to baffle everyone including the waziri-wazarat
son who had by now gained considerable experience felt that he understood
the moot point and that he could present a solution for the whole problem.
He made a courtesy with folded hands to the woziriwozarat and submitted:
"Most august and most exalted, grant permission to this humble slave to
speak a few words." The prayer was granted. The stipendiary explained briefly
the solution to the problem. Having heard him everybody felt that the problem
had ceased to exist.
felt slightly elated in spirit as his face seemed to indicate.
once apprehended danger. "What a poor impression of my ability," he thought,
"will be carried away by these men." "Who is this young boy?" he demanded.
They told him
that he was a mere stipendiary. He asked for his antecedents and his face
grew red to the very lobes of his ears as he learnt that he was a peasant's
son who had worked his way up through the culinary service. "Beaten by
a peasant boy, a cook's son," he seemed to ruminate. Had he been the scion
of a titular family he would perhaps, not have minded, but he was smarting
under the humiliation of having been beaten by a peasant boy. The wide
gulf in their social status, their classes, were unbridgeable. It was intolerable
for him to countenance the presence of peasants' boys and cooks' sons in
the revenue department which was meant for the families of jagirdhars,
rajas and nobles. He was beside himself with rage and called the boy to
his presence in a quaking voice. The atmosphere in the office was tense
with suspense. The boy advanced slowly. The waziriwazarat caught
hold of his garment at the collar and tore it through its entire length.
The other was helpless. "Your presence here in this office," he said "is
unauthorized. You should go back to your village unless you want to be
cast into prison. Don't step in where you are an intruder! "
stepped out of the office, cast a last lingering look on the tehsil
took the road to his village.