Breaking The Horse
Sharda, Shiva, Madhu, Sham
and Prithve are Head master assistants and Hostel Superintendent of a famous
institution in Anti-town about 55 kms from the capital city respectively. The
first three form the loyalist group with the majority of the other teachers; the
fourth assistant is the leader of the rebel group, the so-called individual as
per Pt. Nehru's term. It goes to their credit that both the rival groups hold
the interest of the institution and students at heart. They are as enthusiastic
as anyone could ever be. Despite their petty rivalries and internal bickering,
they are cordial, cooperative and unblemishingly faithful as far as the
functioning, progress and good name of the institution are concerned. They stand
perfectly united by strong bonds of common interest but are imperceptible rivals
in self-interest. However their rivalry mayor may not be justified on the basis
of human covetousness on the part of assistants to dislodge and occupy the
headmaster's chair after his
retirement or by intrigue.
Two most influential leaders of city school staff visited
their counterparts of the institution in Anti-town. One of them was sent to
Prithve to win him over to their side to serve as a tool for their ulterior
motives. They wanted to use him as a tale bearer to the supreme authority of all
the schools against the loyalist group.
Prithve gives a blunt rebuff to him. The crestfallen
mediator returns. But it takes no time for him to reconcile and forget the
On receiving the information, the leader of the loyalist
group wrongly presumes Prithve's affinity towards them. They too try to rope him
into their group with the same type of ulterior motive. The identical rebuttal
by Prithve gives them a jolt and causes a dent in their leaders mind. Cynically,
he shows no signs of ill-will towards Prithve, though the volcano in him erupts
from the underground of his brain sometime later.
During Prithve's four day sojourn in the capital city prior
to taking extra vacation classes for the tenth class, Shiva intriguingly
instigates the hostel cook, to enjoy the interval at home during the formers
absence. The trick works.
Despite the scarcity of transport facilities those days,
Prithve manages to arrive just in time to take his period. But, as soon as he
steps into the classroom, there arises a loud grin-n in chorus in protest as the
class stands up. Prithve pockets the impertinence as he smells the rat at the
same time. He conducts his teaching work unmoved by emotional reaction.
Later, in the hostel, the hostellers approach him with a
serious complaint. Displaying their dirty hands, they complain "Sir, we had
to spend all the time making purchases and cooking our food. We couldn’t do
justice to our daily home task. Our teachers reprimanded us".
"Why? What is the matter? You had the hostel cook at
your service," replied Prithve.
"No Sir, the hostel cook has arrived only a few
minutes before you arrived here. Shiva had told us that you had sanctioned leave
in his favor for these days", they replied.
Suspecting mischievous retribution, Prithve takes prompt
disciplinary action and tactfully quells the revolt. Imperceptible and subtle
underground support by Sham justifies Prithve's prompt action.
The atmosphere clears up in Prithve's favor and Shiva's
dismay. Thus did Sham settle his scores with senior most claimant for head
master's post of the institution due to secret intrigue to Prithve's advantage.
In the meanwhile the institution is astir and agog with
whispering rumor. "He is a fanatic Christian from Britain," a ruthless
proselytizes. Our colleagues in city institutions have rightly grown panicky and
skeptical. They shudder and play hide and seek, as far as possible, when
tyranteal visits any of-the cluster of our institutions in the city. They are
too frightened to control their nerves". Say some of the vociferous
members. Thus the (baseless!) rumor takes wind, vitiating the atmosphere. The
staff becomes nervous.
"What then? How does it affect us here? What has he to
do with our institution at this distant place" ? enquires Prithve of his
hostel colleagues, Pt. Ji and Shiva.
"Fundamentalism and conversions are contagious. They
spread like wild fire. Who knows, what is in store for us. ? they say.
"Never mind. Be self confident and fearless. Have
faith in God. Leave everything else to Him", advises Prithve.
Time passes by. The vigorous impact of the rumor dies out.
The institution settles downs to normal functioning. The usual calm prevails.
Loud " Thuck--- Thuck---- Girrr ----Girrr----
---" noise of a running motor cycle suddenly disturbs the calm one day. A
sturdy young man of forty, wearing goggles directly drives fast into the very
institutional premises. Sensational whispers instantly diffuse into the busy
classrooms. Everybody stands alert in surprise.
"Where is Sharda, your boss”? He enquires of a staff
member on duty.
A peon guides him into the Headmaster's room. There, the
two stay for long, discussing something. Tea is served to them. The visitor
dressed in sports gear leaves back after a couple of hours.
A few weeks after, the same visitor comes again to takeover
charge, as the new headmaster from him. Thereafter, he attends the institution
in time daily and leaves back to the city on his motor-bicycle.
One day, he calls Prithve to his office and tells him that
he intended staying in the newly built house for hostel inside, the
institutional premises and to share their food in the hostel, situated at a
stone's throw from it. The date of stay is fixed a couple of weeks hence.
In the evening, Prithve discusses the fixture with the
other two Co-staff hostellers, his predecessor and Pt. Ji. The menu and the pros
and cons of the proposed stay are thoroughly discussed.
"Furrows of the field of proselization are beaten, the
grounds smoothened, just to sow the seeds. The rumors have proved true",
warns Pt. Ji. He pleads for his departure from the hostel, or else, for
permission to dine with boys on the pretext of supervision.
"Why do you want to separate from us"? asks
Prithve. "I simply don't relish the idea of inter dining. I feel
embarrassed. Bavington is unpredictable. He is a veritable fanatic, as
every-body knows. Who knows, he may deliberately pollute our dishes"? Comes
"I very much appreciate your feelings and
apprehensions, a pious Hindu as you are. I too am a Hindu though a liberal one.
Rest assured, that I will not spare any pains to see that your piety remains
intact, come what may, in our company with our British boss", replies
Prithve "You, yourself will know about the desired arrangements, a day
before the fixed date".
Four, small and five-inch high, individual tables are made
to order with provision for the accommodation of a tumbler of water, a couple or
two of cups for vegetable preparations and the rice plate. On the appointed time
Bavington arrives for dinner and takes his seat facing Prithve, Shiva and Pt. Ji.
In comes the hostel-cook with a jug of water and a "chilamchi"
(receptacle) Hands are to be washed before partaking of food. He begins from
"Why? What for have I to wash my hands? Aren’t they
cleaner than those of yours" ? He asks. Sir, as already desired by your
good self that you wanted to dine as Kashmiris do, we haven’t made any
provision for knives and forks," replies Prithve misunderstanding that the
boss wanted to dine in his own western style.
"Surely, I have, but just look that my hands are quite
clean for the purpose," Says Bavington. "Sir, your hands may be clean
for all purposes but dining," says Prithve.
"How do you say that? Came the next query. "If
you have no objection, sir, I will prove it just here and now", replies
Wresting the jug from the cook, Prithve asks Bavington to
wash his hands over the "Chilamchi." Prithve gently pours a little
quantity of water. Bavingtion is surprised to see dirty droplets of water
trickling down. "Yes, you are right, Prithve. I must act on your bidding
and wash my hands", he admits the factual position. Hands are washed and
dinner served on brand new dining tables. Suddenly in a peculiar voice Bavington
asks in surprise, "what the devil are you acting? What's that compressed
morsel you have kept outside your plate?" Prithve and Pt. Ji are benumbed
as they recollect the rumor and feel that the ruthless fanatic has begun to show
his teeth. Instantly Prithve pleads, "Sir, you are aware of the salary we
get. We can't spare anything for alms giving not help the poor and needy as
enjoined upon us by the Christian gospel too. But we can easily lay by a morsel
from our own dish for birds and dogs, Hence the action. "Certainly, I agree
with you. Don't you share their feelings, Mr. Shiva?" Bavington adds, as
the former had. .nor done so.
Strangely enough the next day Shiva only did so but not the
other two, followed by all hereafter.