Showing posts with label SSC ENGLISH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SSC ENGLISH. Show all posts

March 24, 2020




Smt P. Satyavathi is one of those writers who have brought feminism to the peak in Telugu literature. Though she is aretired English lecturer, she has great understanding of the Telugu accent and the idiom of the respective regions. She is adept in portraying human experience universally. The technique of appealing to the readers by weaving the story wonderfully with a philosophical touch and theological aspect is her forte. She has published four anthologies of short stories, five novels and a collection of essays. She has won a number of prestigious awards. This story "What Is My Name" is originally published as "Illalakagaane Pandagouma" in Telugu in 1990 and has been translated into almost all the south Indian languages and Hindi.


Have you noticed how your father calls your mother? Does he use her name or not? How do the neighbours address her? Does anyone address her by name? What about your grandmother? In this story, P. Sathyavathi describes how a woman forgets her own name since no one addresses her by name. How does a woman gain her identityby name, by marriage, by motherhood, by education, by profession or by anything else? Read the story keeping these questions in mind.

A young woman, before being a housewife. A woman, educated and cultured, and intelligent, and capable, quick-witted, with a sense of humour and elegance. 

Falling for her beauty and intelligence, as also the dowry which her father offered, a young man tied the three sacred knots around her neck, made her the housewife to a household and said to her, 'Look, ammadu, this is your home.' Then the housewife immediately pulled the end of her sari and tucked it in at the waist and swabbed the entire house and decorated the floor with muggulu designs. The young man promptly praised her work. 'You are dexterous at swabbing the floor — even more dexterous in drawing the muggulu. Sabash, keep it up.' He said it in English, giving her a pat on the shoulder in appreciation. Overjoyed, the housewife began living with swabbing as the chief mission in her life. She scrubbed the house spotlessly clean at all times and beautifully decorated it with multi-coloured designs. That's how her life went on, with a sumptuous and ceaseless supply of swabbing cloths and muggu baskets.

But one day while scrubbing the floor, the housewife suddenly asked herself, 'What is my name?' The query shook her up. Leaving the mopping cloth and the muggu basket there itself, she stood near the window scratching her head, lost in thoughts. 'What is my name — what is my name?' The house across the road carried a name-board, Mrs M Suhasini, M.A., Ph.D., Principal, 'X' College. Yes, she too had a name as her neighbour did — 'How could I forget like that? In my scrubbing zeal I have forgotten my name-what shall I do now?' The housewife was perturbed. Her mind became totally restless. Somehow she finished her daubing for the day. 

Meanwhile, the maidservant arrived. Hoping at least she would remember, the housewife asked her, 'Look, ammayi, do you know my name?'

'What is it, amma?' said the girl. 'What do we have to do with names of mistresses' You are only a mistress to us — the mistress of such and such a white-storeyed house, ground floor means you.' '

'Yes, true, of course, how can you know, poor thing?' thought the housewife. 

The children came home from school for lunch in the afternoon. 'At least the children might remember my name' — the housewife hoped.

'Look here, children, do you know my name?' she asked. 

They were taken a back.

'You are amma - your name is amma only - ever since we were born we have known only this, the letters that come are only in father's name - because everyone calls him by his name we know his name - you never told us your name - you don't even get letters addressed to your name,' the children said plainly. 'Yes, who will write letters to me' Father and mother are there but they only make phone calls once in a month or two Even my sisters are immersed with swabbing their houses. Even if they met me in some marriage or kumkum ceremony, they chatted away their time talking about new muggulu or new dishes to cook, but no letters!' The housewife was disappointed and grew more restless — the urge to know her own name somehow or the other grew stronger in her.

Now a neighbour came to invite her to a kumkum ceremony. The housewife asked her neighbour hoping she at least would remember her name. Giggling, the lady said, 'Somehow or other I haven't asked your name nor have you told me. Right -hand side, white storeyed - house or there she is, that pharmaceutical company manager's wife, if not that, that fair and tall lady, that s how we refer to you, that's all.' That's all that the other housewife could say. 

It s no use. What can even my children's friends say - they know me only as Kamala's mother or some aunty, now my respected husband - is the only hope - if anyone remembers it, it is only he.

During the night meal, she asked him, 'Look here, I have forgotten my name - if you remember it, will you please tell me?' 

The respected husband burst out laughing and said, 'What is it, dear, never has it happened before, you are talking about your name today. Ever since we were married I have got used to calling you only as yemoi. You too never told me not to address you that way because you have a name of your own - what's happened now - Everyone calls you Mrs. Murthy, don't they?''

Not Mrs Murthy, I want my own name - what shall I do now?' she said in anguish 

'What's there, you choose a new name, some name or other,' the husband advised. 

Very nice - your name is Satyanarayana Murthy; will you keep quiet if I ask you to change your name to Siva Rao or Sundara Rao? I want my name only,' she said. 

'It's all right, you are an educated woman - your name must be on the certificates - don't you have that much commonsense - go and find out,' he advised her.

The housewife searched frantically for her certificates in the almirah - pattu saris, chiffon saris, handloom saris, voile saris, matching blouses, petticoats, bangles, beads, pearls, pins, kumkum barinas, silver plates, silver containers to keep sandalwood paste, ornaments all things arranged in an orderly fashion. Now here could she find her certificates. Yes - after marriage she had never bothered to carry those certificates here. 

'Yes - I haven't brought them here - I shall go to my place, search for my certificates and enquire about my name, and return in a couple of days.' She asked for her husband's permission. 'Very nice! Must you go just for your name or what? If you go who will scrub the house these two days?' said her lord. Yes, that was true - because she scrubbed better than the others, she had not allowed anyone else to do that job all these days. Everyone was busy with their own respective duties. He had his office - poor things, the children had their studies to take care of. Why should they bother about this chore, and she had been doing it all along - they just didn't know how to do it, of course.

But still, how to live without knowing one's name? It was all right all these days since the question had not occurred to her; now it was really hard to live without a name. 

'Just for two days you manage somehow or other — until and unless I go and get my name I shall find it difficult to live,' she pleaded with her husband and managed to get out of the house.

'Why, dear daughter, have you come so suddenly? Are your children and husband all right? Why have you come alone?'

Behind affectionate enquiries of the father and the mother there was a strain of suspicion. Recollecting immediately the purpose of her visit, the housewife asked her mother most pitifully, 'Amma, tell me, what is my name?' 

'What is it amma, you are our elder daughter. We gave you education up to B.A. and got you married with fifty thousand rupees as dowry. We took care of your two deliveries - each time we alone bore the expenses of the maternity home. You have two children - your husband has a good job - a very nice person, too - your children are well-mannered.'

'It's not my history, amma — it's my name I want. At least tell me where my certificates are.'

'I don't know, child. Recently we cleaned out the almirah of old papers and files and arranged some glassware in their place. Some important files we kept in the attic - we shall search for them tomorrow. Now what is the hurry, don't worry about them - take a good bath and have your meal, child,' said the housewife's mother. 

The housewife took a good bath and ate her meal, but she could not sleep. While scrubbing the house, humming happily, joyously, and making muggulu, she had never thought that she would have to face so many difficulties like this by forgetting her own name.

Dawn broke, but the search for the certificates among the files in the attic had not ended. 

Now the wife asked everyone she met - she asked the trees - the anthills - the pond - the school where she had studied - the college. After all the shouting and the wailing, she met a friend - and succeeded in recovering her name. 

That friend was also like her - married, and a housewife like her, but she had not made swabbing the sole purpose of her life; scrubbing was only part of her life; she remembered her name and the names of her friends. This particular friend recognized our housewife.

'Sarada! My dear Sarada!' she shouted and embraced her. The housewife felt like a person - totally parched and dried up, about to die of thirst - getting a drink of cool water from the new earthen kooja poured into her mouth with a spoon and given thus a new life. The friend did indeed give her a new life - 'You are Sarada. You came first in our school in the tenth class. You came first in the music competition conducted by the college. You used to paint good pictures too. We were ten friends altogether - I meet all of them some time or other. We write letters to each other. Only you have gone out of our reach! Tell me why are you living incognito?' her friend confronted her.

'Yes, Pramila - what you say is true. Of course I'm Sarada - until you said it I could not remember it - all the shelves of my mind were taken up with only one thing - how well I can scrub the floors. I remembered nothing else. Had I not met with you I would have gone mad,' said the housewife named Sarada.

Sarada returned home, climbed the attic and fished out her certificates, the pictures she had drawn - old albums, everything she succeeded in getting out. She also searched further and managed to find the prizes she had received in school and college.

Overjoyed, she returned home. 

'You have not been here - look at the state of the house - it's like a choultry. Oh what a relief you are here, now it is like a festival for us,' said Sarada's husband.

'Just scrubbing the floor does not make a festival1. By the way, from now onwards don't call me yemoi geemoi. My name is Sarada — call me Sarada, understood? 

Having said that she went inside, humming, joyously. 

Sarada who had always cared so much for discipline, keeping an eye on every corner, checking if there was dust, making sure things were properly arranged each in its correct and respective order, now sat on the sofa which had not been dusted for the last two days. She sat there showing the children an album of her paintings that she had brought for them.



Gabriel Okara is an Aftrican poet. He was born in 1921 in Nigeria. He was educated at Government College, Umuahia. His parents were not rich. He worked as a book binder and later as an information officer at Enugu. He also wrote plays and features for broadcasting and became a poet of outstanding ability. His poems appeared regularly in Black Orpheus. He has also written a novel called Voice.


Once upon a time, son,

they used to laugh with their hearts

and laugh with their eyes:

but now they only laugh with their teeth,

while their ice-block-cold eyes

search behind my shadow.

There was a time indeed

they used to shake hands with their hearts:

but that's gone, son.

Now they shake hands without hearts:

while their left hands search

my empty pockets.

'Feel at home'! 'Come again':

they say, and when I come

again and feel

at home, once, twice,

there will be no thrice -

for then I find doors shut on me.

So I have learned many things, son.

I have learned to wear many faces

like dresses - home face,

office face, street face, host face,

cocktail face, with all their conforming smiles

like a fixed portrait smile.

And I have learned too

to laugh with only my teeth

and shake hands without my heart.

I have also learned to say, 'Goodbye',

when I mean 'Good-riddance';

to say ' Glad to meet you',

without being glad; and to say 'It's been

nice talking to you', after being bored.

But believe me, son.

I want to be what I used to be

when I was like you. I want

to unlearn all these muting things.

Most of all, I want to relearn

how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror

shows only my teeth like a snake's bare fangs !

So show me, son,

how to laugh; show me how

I used to laugh and smile

once upon a time when I was like you.



Arthur Lemière Hendriks (1922-1992) was a Jamaican poet, Writer, and broadcasting director (known as Micky Hendriks in his broadcasting career). He was bom in 1922 in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Jamaican father and a French mother. He was particularly well known for his contributions to the Christian Science Monitor, The Daily Gleaner, and BIM. He also contributed as a columnist and literary critic to the Daily Gleaner. He died in 1992 at the age of 69.


Every day, I walk a half-mile from my home to the tramcar lines in the morning and from the lines to my home in the evening. The walk is pleasant. The road on either side is flanked by red and green-roofed bungalows, green lawns and gardens. The exercise is good for me, and now and then, I learn something from a little incident. One morning, about halfway between my front gate and the tram track, I noticed two little boys playing in the garden of the more modest cottages. They were both very little boys, one was four years old perhaps, the other five. The bigger of the two was a sturdy youngster, very dark, with a mat of coarse hair on his head and coal-black eyes. He was definitely a little Jamaican - a strong little Jamaican. The other little fellow was smaller, but also sturdy - he was white, with hazel eyes and light-brown hair. Both were dressed in blue shirts and khaki pants. They wore no shoes and their feet were muddy. They were not conscious of my standing there, watching them; they played on. The game, if it could be called a game, was not elaborate. The little white boy strode imperiously up and down, and every now and then shouted imperiously at his bigger playmate. The little brown boy shuffled along quietly behind him and did what he was told.

'Pick up that stick!' The dark boy picked it up. 'Jump into the flowers!' The dark boy jumped. 

'Get me some water!' The dark boy ran inside. The white boy sat down on the lawn. 

I was amazed. Here before my eyes, a white baby, for they were little more than babies, was imposing his will upon a little black boy. And the little black boy submitted. I puzzled within myself as I went down the road. Could it be that the little dark boy was the son of a servant in the home and therefore had to do the white boy's bidding? No. They were obviously dressed alike, the little dark boy was of equal class with his playmate. No. They were playmates, the little dark boy was a neighbour's child. I was sure of that. Then how was it that he obeyed so faithfully the white boy's orders?

Was it that even as a boy he sensed that in his own country he would be at the white man's beck and call? Could he, at his age, divine a difference between himself and the white boy? And did the little white youngster, so young, such a baby, realize that he would grow to dominate the black man? Was there an indefinable quality in the white man that enabled his baby, smaller and younger than his playmate, to make him his slave? I could find no answer. I could not bring myself to believe such a thing, and yet, with my own eyes I had seen a little dark boy take orders from a little white boy - a little white boy, obviously his social equal, and younger and smaller. Were we, as a race, really inferior? So inferior that even in our infancy we realised our deficiencies, and accepted a position as the white man's servant?

For a whole day I puzzled over this problem. For a whole day my faith in my people was shaken. When I passed by that afternoon the little boys were not there. That evening I thought deeply on the subject. 

The next morning the boys were there again, and a man was standing at the gate watching them. I stopped and looked, just to see what the white boy was making his little servant do. To my utter astonishment the little dark boy was striding imperiously up and down the lawn, while the white youngster walked abjectly behind him. 

'Get me a banana!' The little boy ran into the house and reappeared shortly with a banana. 'Peel it for me!' the little white boy peeled the banana and handed it to his dark master.

I saw it now. It was indeed a game, a game I had played as a child. Each boy took it in turn every alternate day to be the boss, the other the slave. It had been great fun to me as a youngster. I smiled as I remembered. I looked at the man standing by the gate. He was a white man. I remembered what I had thought yesterday. He, no doubt, I thought to myself, was wondering if the black race is superior to the white. I laughed gently to myself. How silly grown-ups are, how clever we are, how wonderfully able we are, to impute deep motives to childish actions! This man, I said to myself, will puzzle all day on whether the blacks will eventually rise and rule the world because he thinks he sees a little black boy realizing at a tender age his superiority over the white. I will save him his puzzle. I will explain it to him. I went across to him.

'I know what you're thinking,' I said. 'You're thinking that may be the black race is superior to the white, because you just saw the little dark youngster on the lawn ordering the little white boy around. Don't think that; it's a game they play. Alternate days one is the boss, the other the servant. It's a grand game. I used to play it and may be so did you. Yesterday I saw the little white boy bossing the dark one and I worried all day over the dark boy's realisation of his inferiority so young in life! We are silly, we grown-ups, aren't we.'? 

The man was surprised at my outburst. He looked at me smiling. 'I know all about the game,' he said. 'The boys are brothers - my sons.' He pointed to a handsome brown woman on the verandah who had just come out to call in the children. 'That's my wife', he said. 

I smiled. My spirit laughed within me. This is Jamaica, I said in my heart, this is my country - my people. I looked at the white man. He smiled at me. 'We'll miss the tram if we don't hurry,' he said.



India, a country of many ethnic groups, is a land of myriad languages, a veritable babel of tongues and numerous modes of apparel. For the most part, the continental dimensions of the country account for these variations and diversities. Besides, there are several religions, sects and beliefs. But there are certain common links and uniting bonds that people have sought to develop in order to achieve the eminently desirable goal of unity amidst diversity. 

It is true that superficial observers are likely to be bewildered by the astonishing variety of Indian life. They fail to discover the one in many, the individual, in the aggregate; the simple in the composite. With them the whole is lost in its parts. What is needed is the superior interpretation, synthesis of the power of the mind that can give rise to a vision of the whole. 

A keen penetrating insight will not fail to recognise the fundamental unity beneath the manifold variety in India. The diversity itself, far from being a damaging cause of disunity and weakness, is a fertile source of strength and wealth. Sir Herbert Risely has rightly observed: "Beneath the manifold diversity of physical and social types, languages, customs and religions which strike the observer in India, there can still be discerned a certain underlying uniformity of life from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin." 

From his long and first-hand experience in India, Vincent A. Smith says that the civilisation of India "has many features which differentiate it from that of the other regions of the world, while they are common to the whole country in degree sufficient to justify its treatment as a unity in the history of human, social and intellectual development. 

" Even the early Indian history unmistakably shows that the political consciousness of the people has from the very early times, grasped the whole of India as a unit and assimilated the entire area as the theatre of its activities. India is not a mere geographical expression, nor is it a mere collection of separate peoples, traditions and conventions. India is much more than this. The best proof lies in the fact that Indian history has quickened into life. 

India has many races, castes, sub-castes, nationalities and communities, but the heart of India is one. We are all heirs to a common and rich culture. Our cultural heritage consists of our art and literature as they flourished centuries ago. Our cultural heritage serves as a bond of unity between people of different faiths and creeds. 

The streams of different cultures have flowed into our subcontinent to make us what we are and what we will be. There were Dravidians in India before the coming of the Aryans and Hinduism is a blend of the cultures of the North and the South. 

India has one hundred and fifty dialects, and twenty two recognised regional languages, but Hindi, like English, has come to stay as the lingua franca of our nation. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Mumbai to Nagaland, Hindi is now understood and is recognised as the national language of India. 

India has a rich cultural heritage. We are inheritors of several grand treasures in the fields of music, fine arts, dance, drama, theatre and sculpture. Our sages and seers have left behind a tradition of piety, penance, spiritual greatness, conquest of passion, etc. Our scriptures are the storehouses of spiritual wisdom. Our saints aspired to the realisation of the infinite. We have inherited great spiritual values contrasted with which the materialistic progress of the West appears insignificant. 

The West has to learn a lot from India, and it has now been realised when people in the United States and Europe are turning to the Indian way of life. Indian yogis and maharishis, musicians and spiritual leaders, have all attracted them in a big way. A significant move to project India's cultural unity has been the holding of Festivals of India in various parts of the world. The West is fast inclining towards our spiritual values which include meditation and contemplation, charity and love, universal brotherhood and fear of God, piety and unselfishness, control of passions and peace of mind. 

Our cultural unity is further exemplified by the temples of the South and of Khajuraho, the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, which are shining examples of India's proficiency in sculpture and architecture. Our music has come to enjoy worldwide popularity. 

Indian classical music, like the Indian dances, is built on the concept of ragas and talas. Each raga is regarded appropriate to a certain time of the day or the night. There are believed to be about 250 ragas in common use in the North as well as in the South. In the modern times, people like Ravi Shankar have taken Indian music to the West and thus bridged the gap between the music of the East and the West. 

Other significant features of India's cultural unity are the variety, colour and the emotional richness of its dances. The country abounds in tribal dances, old-dances as well as classical dances of great virtuosity. Throughout India, need is regarded not merely as an accompaniment to social intercourse, but also as a mode of aesthetic expression and spiritual realization. 

The great symbol of dance is Shiva, the Cosmic Dancer, depicted in sculpture and poetry as Nataraja. Similarly, the classical theatre in India has a history of more than two thousand years. It was performed in palaces and in temples. The classical plays combined music and dance. Tragedy was, and is, still discouraged otherwise; the range of themes covered is wide. 

It is this strand of cultural unity running through the country that we are heir to, and to which people in the West are increasingly turning now. It is up to the younger generation to uphold this torch of cultural unity for the rest of the world to see, follow and emulate, and not get dazed by the superficial prosperity and material achievement of the West, where man has set foot on the Moon in his quest for space travel, but finds himself isolated in his own society and community.



We, Indians are proud to be a strong nation, 

our roots, we declare, cannot be shaken. 

Then why these fights, 

which leave us in poor plight? 

Irrespective of our region, 

forget the castes, 

which makes us lose our charm, 

let's ignore the selfish call of each region. and listen for once to the call of the nation. why do we spend our time bickering? 

when so many tasks need finishing. 

Don't we have better things to do? 

Than indulge in creating problems a new? 

Is all this violence needed? 

with the people being cheated! 

Who will return this only son? 

Whom she loves a ton, 

Who will bring back his brother? 

Whose ashes he is still to gather. 

Where has all the love gone? 

Which resided in the heart of all, 

there is no reason to be proud, 

and be on high cloud, 

we have to go a long way. 

we have to think seriously. 

Else we end up miserably. 

Then let our minds throw out the rot, 

And devote our time to pious thoughts, 

Let us control the riots, 

which leave us with no choice, 

But to hang our heads in shame, 

And say we have miserably failed, 

We have the power to win, 

So why not end this din, 

Let us unite, 

And fight against those who incite, 

Let us not be misled, 

By those who want to see us dead, 

We are a strong united nation 

All we need is a bit of dedication.



Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, was bom on 15th October 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. He was responsible for the evoluțion of ISRO's launch vehicle programme, particularly the PSIV configuration and for the development and operationalisation of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles and for building indigenous capability in critical technologies through networking of multiple institutions. In his literary pursuit four of Dr. Kalam's books - "Wings of Fire", "India 2020 - A Vision for the New Millennium", "My Journey" and "Ignited Minds - Unleashing the power within India" have become household names in India and among the Indian nationals abroad. Dr. Kalamreceived honorary doctorates from 30 universities and institutions. He was awarded the coveted civilian awards - Padma Bhushan (1981) and Padma Vibhushan (1990) and the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (1997). Dr. Kalam became the 11th President of India on 25th July 2002. 


Read the following extract from Wings of Fire, where the former President of India speaks of his childhood. 


I was born into a middle - class Tamil family in the island town of Rameswaram in the erstwhile Madras State. My father, Jainulabdeen , had neither much formal education nor much wealth; despite these disadvantages, he possessed great innate wisdom and a true generosity of spirit. He had an ideal helpmate in my mother, Ashiamma. I do not recall the exact number of people she fed every day, but I am quite certain that far more outsiders ate with us than all the members of our own family put together. 

I was one of the children - a short boy with rather undistinguished looks, born to tall and handsome parents. We lived in our ancestral house, which was built in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was a fairly large pucca house , made of limestone and brick, on the Mosque Street in Rameswaram. My austere father used to avoid all inessential comforts and luxuries. However , all necessities were provided for, in terms of food, medicine or clothes. In fact, I would say mine was a very secure childhood, both materially and emotionally.

The Second World War broke out in 1939, when I was eight years old. For reasons I have never been able to understand, a sudden demand for tamarind seeds erupted in the market. I used to collect the seeds and sell them to a provision shop on Mosque Street. A day's collection would fetch me the princely sum of one anna. My brother -in-law Jallaluddin would tell me stories about the War which I would later attempt to trace in the headlines in Dinamani. Our area , being isolated , was completely unaffected by the War. But soon India was forced to join th e Allied Forces and something like a state of emergency was declared. The first casualty came in the form of the suspension of the train halt at Rameswaram station. The newspapers now had to be bundled and thrown out from the moving train on the Rameswaram Road between Rameswaram and Dhanuskodi. That forced my cousin Samsuddin, who distributed newspapers in Rameswaram, to look for a helping hand to catch the bundles and, as if naturally , I filled the slot. Samsuddin helped me earn my first wages. Half a century later, I can still feel the surge of pride in earning my own money for the first time.

Every child is born, with some inherited characteristics, into a specific socioeconomic and emotional environment , and trained in certain ways by figures of authority. I inherited honesty and self-discipline from my father; from my mother. I inherited faith in goodness and deep kindness and so did my three brothers and sister. I had three close friends in my childhood - Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. All these boys were from orthodox Hindu Brahmin families. As children, none of us ever felt any difference amongst ourselves because of our religious differences and upbringing. In fact , Ramanadha Sastry was the son of Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry, the high priest of the Rameswaram temple . Later he took over the priesthood of the Rameswaram temple from his father; Aravindan went into the business of arranging transport for visiting pilgrims; and Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern Railways.

During the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony, our family used to arrange boats with a special platform for carrying idols of the Lord from the temple to the marriage site, situated in the middle of the pond called Rama Tirtha which was near our house. Events from the Ramayana and from the life of the Prophet were the bedtime stories my mother and grandmother would tell the children in our family. 

One day when I was in the fifth standard at the Rameswaram Elementary School, a new teacher came to our class. I used to wear a cap which marked me as a Muslim, and I always sat in the front row next to Ramanadha sastry , who wore the sacred thread. The new teacher could not stomach a Hindu priest's son sitting with a Muslim boy. In accordance with our social ranking as the new teacher saw it, I was asked to go and sit on the back bench. I felt very sad, and so did Ramanadha Sastry. He looked utterly downcast as I shifted to my seat in the last row. The image of him weeping when I shifted to the last row left a lasting impression on me.

After school, we went home and told our respective parents about the incident . Lakshmana Sastry summoned the teacher , and in our presence , told the teacher that he should not spread the poison of social inequality and communal intolerance in the minds of innocent children. He bluntly asked the teacher to either apologize or quit the school and the island. Not only did the teacher regret his behaviour , but the strong sense of conviction Lakshmana Sastry conveyed ultimately reformed this young teacher. On the whole , the small society of Rameswaram was very rigid in terms of the segregation of different social groups. However, my science teacher Sivasubramania Iyer, though an orthodox Brahmin with a very conservative wife, was something of a rebel. He did his best to break social barriers so that people from varying backgrounds could mingle easily. He used hours with me and would say, "Kalam, I want you to develop so that you are on par with the highly educated people of the big cities".

One day, he invited me to his home for a meal. His wife was horrified at the idea of a Muslim boy being invited to dine in her ritually pure kitchen. She refused to serve me in her kitchen. Sivasubramania Iyer was not perturbed, nor did he get angry with his wife, but instead, served me with his own hands and sat down beside me to eat his meal. His wife watched us from behind the kitchen door. I wondered whether she had observed any difference in the way I ate rice, drank water or cleaned the floor after the meal. When I was leaving his house, Sivasubramania Iyer invited me to join him for dinner again the next weekend. Observing my hesitation , he told not to get upset, saying, “Once you decide to change the system, such problems have to be confronted.” When I visited his house the next week, Sivasubramania Iyer’s wife took me inside her kitchen and served me food with her own hands.

Then the Second World War was over and India's freedom was imminent. "Indians will build their own India," declared Gandhiji. The whole country was filled with an unprecedented optimism. I asked my father for permission to leave Rameswaram and study at the district headquarters in Ramanathapuram. He told me as if thinking aloud, "Abul! I know you have to go away to grow. Does the seagull not fly across the sun, alone and without a nest?". He quoted Khalil Gibran to my hesitant mother , "Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts."




Mr. Sunday Nana, his wife and four small children live in Koko Village, Nigeria . The village is like any other African village-picturesque, colourful and noisy. The Nana family's house, too, is the same as all the other houses in the village, with mud walls and a rusting corrugated iron roof, and with children and chickens sharing the compound.

There is one difference, however. Outside Mr. Nana's front are three large empty metal drums, the bright red paint now flaking away, but the skull and crossbones symbol clearly visible on each. And in a clearing 200m away from the village, next to a stream that the villagers get their drinking water from, is an enormous pyramid of identical drums, reaching to the sky. Some of them are badly corroded, their slimy contents of various colours - grey, dark green, bright orange, etc. - leaking out, down, on to the baked African earth and into the stream. Some have fallen down and rolled - or been rolled by playful children - into the bush. Some are smoking in the midday heat. Some are swelling, as if their contents are bursting to get out. Some have already burst. 

“They came on a Wednesday,” said Sunday, “Many, many big lorries. They took all day unloading them. No-one told us what was in them. They gave the Chief a brown paper bag-I saw him smiling as the lorries drove away. This was five years ago. Then three months ago, one of the brightest boys in the village - Thomas Agonyo - started university in Lagos. He came home one weekend with a new Chemistry book, and spent all day looking at the drums and writing things down and talking to himself and shaking his head. We all thought he had gone mad. Then he called a meeting of the village and told us that the drums contained poisonous chemicals. He said they had come from Italy. But I don't know where that is. Is it in Europe?”

Mr. Sunday Nana stopped, frowning, a troubled look on his face, "In the last five years, 13 people have died in this village, my own elder brother one of them. They have been in pain, terrible pain. We have never seen deaths like that before. Lots of our children are sick. We have asked the Government to take the drums away, but they do nothing. We have written to Italy, but they do nothing. The Chief says we should move our houses to another place. But we have no money to buy land. We have no choice. We have to stay here. “And they” ------ pointing to the mountain of death in the clearing - "are our neighbours."


"I can remember the time," she said wistfully, "when all the fields around this village were green and the harvests good". Her outstretched arm described a complete circle as she stood in the morning sun. "Then they built those monsters, those……." Her voice spluttered in anger as she shook her fist at a collection of ominous looking black buildings on the horizon, covered in a low-lying shroud of thick smoke. "They said that factories need leather to make shoes, handbags and clothes. They said our men folk would get jobs. They said we would all become rich."

We stood silent, each thinking our own thoughts. Yes, they told you all that. But there is so much they didn't tell you. They didn't tell you that to change animal skins into leather - which they call tanning - uses as many as 250 different chemicals, including heavy metals such as cadmium , arsenic and chromium. They didn't tell you that these chemicals are discharged into the environment from those chimney stacks and fall to earth for miles around, polluting the earth below. They didn't tell you that this would poison your fields, so that nothing will grow.

“They didn't tell us that the chemicals would be dumped in open fields and into our rivers,” sighed Vijayasama. We had been thinking the same thoughts. “They didn't tell us that our women would have to walk ten kilometers every day. They didn't tell us that we would get ulcer and sores on our bodies. They didn't tell us…” Her voice trailed off. There is so much they didn't tell you, I thought. “We don't buy leather shoes or leather handbags or leather clothes,” she said.


"It happened on April the 26th 1986. I remember the date because it was my mother's birthday. We heard the explosion early in the morning. We didn't worry, because there had been explosions before from Chernobyl. But this one was bigger. Everyone stopped what they were doing and listened. Then we ran out into the garden. We could see a cloud of white smoke coming from the nuclear reactor." Natasha Revenko wiped her hands nervously on her apron. Tears came to the corners of her eyes, and slid slowly down her pinched, pale cheeks.

"It was a Saturday," she went on, still wiping her hands on her apron. "It was a lovely warm day, and the children played outside all weekend. Even when the dust began to fall, they still played outside. They picked up handfuls of it and threw it at each other, laughing. It was Wednesday before the loudspeaker van came to the village, telling us to keep our children indoors and not to touch the radioactive dust. They also told us to wash down our houses and roads with water. A week later the children began to vomit. Their hair fell out. They couldn't eat. They grew so thin, and sores appeared all over their little bodies. Two weeks after that, all three died - all three on the same day." She broke down now and cried quietly, as she had done so many times before. "They're buried over there." She pointed to the church graveyard. "Lots of village children are. And adults."

I touched her gently on the shoulder, leaving her to her bitter-sweet memories, and walked on through the silence. It was a ghost town. No one lived there anymore. They had either died or been forcibly evacuated. The fields were barren. Nothing grew. Nothing ever would again. There was no bird-song. No rabbit peered at me. No cow endlessly chewed. No horse neighed. Natasha caught me up as we boarded the bus marked MOSCOW. "Thank you for coming with me," She said. "I wanted to see the graves and the house again, before I die."



Medora Chevalier is the 21st century poet. She is a well-known writer of present day. She writes about all contemporary themes. In this poem - Or will the Dreamer Wake? She writes about how the animals would become extinct if they are not protected.



Out in the East the jungle listens

The tigress, plaintive, growls in pain,

The great trees hear her breathing, shaking

Inside her still, the new lives wait,

These cubs could be the last ones ever

To freely live and roam and mate.

Our grandchild knows the tiger never

Or will the dreamer wake?

Far in the North the white bear snuffles

Down in her lair the gleaming snow

She waits for all the life she's making

Outside the crashing glaciers grow.

These cubs could be the last cubs ever

To freely live and roam and mate.

Our grandchild knows the white bear never

Or will the dreamer wake?

There in the West the song thrush warbles

She weaves her nest to hold her clutch

A long wait now to find a partner

The eggs are laid, there are not much.

These chicks could be the last ones ever

The last to fly and sing and mate.

Our grandchild knows the song thrush never

Or will the dreamer wake?

Deep in Ocean South the whale swims

Her song of birthing fills the seas

Thousands of creatures wait the moment

The solemn birth that they will see.

This child could sing the final whale song

The last to make the oceans shake.

Our grandchild never hears its mystery

Or will the dreamer wake?

Here in the centre, four directions gather

The path ahead leads up or down

Is this our last bright new world birthing?

Is this our waving as we drown?

This could be our last true moment

Knowing the truth, our choices make.

Our grandchild asks “That was the moment!

And did the dreamer wake?”



(Interview with Wangari Maathai, Environmental Activist and Nobel Prize winner) 

Wangari Maathai started the Green Belt Movement and also fought for equal rights for women in Africa. She is the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Read the excerpts from her interview with NHK Radio (Japan).

NHK Radio: How did you become aware of the environment? 

W M: From the time we started, we were trying to respond to the basic needs of people in the rural areas; and people were asking for clean drinking water, for food, for energy (which is mostly firewood), for building material, for fodder for the animals. And all these come from the land. So we knew that what the people in the rural areas were asking for had to do with the environment. They did not have those things because the environment was degraded. So, from the very beginning we understood that we have to rehabilitate the environment.

The forested mountains were the source of water and the source of rain, so when you deforest you cause a shortage of water and a change of rainfall patterns and therefore people are not able to get food and water. Therefore, in order for them to have good environment that can sustain their livelihoods, it is important to have a government that accounts to them, that protects them, that protects their interests, that is concerned about their lives. 

NHK Radio : How is peace connected to a good environment? 

W M : Many wars that are fought in the world are fought over natural resources. Some wars are fought because the environment is so degraded that it is not able to support communities and so they fight over the little that is left. Others are fought because some people want to take a lot of the resources, to control them, and to keep many other people out.

Now whether this happens at the national level or at the regional level, or even at the global level, sooner or later there is discontent; and when that discontent is strong enough, there is conflict. So good management of the natural resources, equitable distribution of these resources, is important for peace. At the same time, good management of the natural resources is not possible if you do not have democratic space, respect for human beings, respect for human rights, giving other people dignity. 

That is why the three themes are related, like the African stool, with three legs and the basin on which you sit. The three legs: one leg is peace, the other leg is good governance, the third leg is sustainable management of resources. When you have those three legs, now you can put the basin, which is development. And if you try to balance that stool without those three, it won't happen.

We have not shared our resources equitably. We have allowed some people, especially those in power, to acquire a lot at the expense of the majority. And we have also engaged in conflict. 

NHK Radio : What was the environment like when you were young, and how did you go about saving it? 

W M. : When I was a child, which is almost more than fifty years ago, the environment was very pristine, very beautiful, and very green. We were a British colony, and the British government at that time started to clear cut the indigenous forests in our forested mountains because they wanted to establish commercial plantations of exotic species of trees such as the pines from the northern hemisphere and the eucalyptus from Australia. These trees are very nice, they grow tall, and they grow very fast, but as they grow they destroy all the local biological diversity. All the flora and fauna disappeared. So although we were getting commercial timber for the growing timber industry, we also destroyed our local flora and fauna.

As a result, these forests, which were the water towers, were no longer able to contain the water, so when the rains fell the water ran downstream and ended up in the lakes and ocean instead of going down into the underground reservoir so that it could come back to us in the form of rivers. One thing we noted is that not only did the rain patterns change, became less, but also the rivers started drying up. We lost our local biological diversity. So that's a lot of damage to our environment. 

That is why in 1975, at the very first United Nations Conference for Women in Mexico, many of the women were saying, "We need food, we need water, we need clean drinking water, we need fodder for our animals." And I was wondering, what has happened? These are things that were there twenty years ago when I was a child. The environment had changed; and that's when I started this campaign to restore the vegetation and to restore the land and to rehabilitate the forests.

NHK Radio : What happened when you started working with the women? 

W M.: Well, the first time when I told them, "Let us plant trees", the women said they did not know how to plant trees. So I asked the foresters to come and teach them, but they were very complicated-they are professionals. It became very complicated for ordinary illiterate women so I told the women, "We shall use our common sense, and just do what we do with other seeds." Women work on the farms. They're the ones who plant. They're the ones who cultivate. They're the ones who produce food, so I told them that seeds of trees are like any other seeds. So if they were to treat these tree seeds the same way they treat other seeds of food crops, there is no difference. I told them to look for old broken pots even and put seeds there. They will germinate and they will know these are the seedlings from the seeds they planted and we gave them plastic bags to be able to put those seedlings and to nurture them and when they were about half a meter long then they could go and transplant them on their farms.

In the beginning it was difficult, but they soon gained confidence and they became very competent foresters. So I called them "Foresters without Diplomas". 

NHK Radio: Why do you think they responded so well to your message? 

W M: It was a need. When the women said they needed firewood and building material, we responded to that need. Plant trees; then you will have trees for firewood. In the tropics, trees grow very fast. In five to ten years these trees serve as firewood, as building materials.

Once we had planted those trees, we saw the need for them to understand why we have to have good governance; so it became important to give them civic education so that they could understand how we govern ourselves, why we govern ourselves the way we govern ourselves, why we are managing our environment the way we are managing it. Because we were dealing with the environment, we gave them education both in civics and also in environment. That made them understand clearly why they should take up the responsibility of protecting their environment-that it was not the responsibility of the government or the responsibility of somebody else to come and rehabilitate their environment on their own land. It's them; it's their responsibility. 

NHK Radio : What transformations did you see?

W M: One of the bigger transformations that I saw was that ability of an ordinary, illiterate woman to get to understand and to be able to plant trees that in five or ten years became big trees and she was able to cut them and be able to give herself energy; to be able to sell those trees and give herself an income; to be able to feel confident that she had done something for herself. That sense of pride, sense of dignity that they are not begging, that they are doing things for themselves was very empowering. That transformation was very powerful. 

The other is the transformation of the landscape. Places where there was dust, there are no more dust. There are trees, even birds and rabbits. They come back and they make the environment very beautiful. There is a shade and sometimes even dry springs come back because the water is not running, the water is going into the ground. Very profound transformation.

And the other transformation that I saw was the willingness of the people to fight for their rights; to decide that they have a right to a good clean environment; to decide that they will fight for their forests, they will protect their forests, and they will not allow corrupt leaders to take their public land. 

NHK Radio : How do you think you can influence the rest of Africa? 

W M: Our efforts will inspire other people to stop wasting their resources and their youth in wars and instead engage in creating a peaceful environment, more peaceful states.

I'm very happy about the fact that now in Africa you see new efforts of ensuring that Africans engage in dialogue, that they invest in peaceful negotiations for conflicts, that we manage our environment. We must restore our environment and try to ensure that we do not fight, because we are allowing the environment, especially the land, to be degraded; and then we fight over agricultural land and grazing land. I see a lot of hope in what is happening in Somalia, what is happening in the Sudan, what is happening in West Africa. I see a lot of African leaders encouraging each other to engage in dialogue. 

NHK Radio: What is the one thing we can do ? 

W M : For me, my greatest activity is to plant a tree. I think that a tree is a wonderful symbol for the environment and when we plant a tree we plant hope. We plant the future for ourselves, for our children, for the birds. We plant something that will last, long after we are gone.



Abandoned to the garbage bin,

With mosquitoes and insects

eating its tiny fingers away,

Little baby crying for help

as foul smells make its play,

irradiating from disposed bacteria.

Unheard shrieks of the baby's hysteria

die in eerie silence of the night,

"An outcast of destiny"

Its labored breath

racing in quick gasps

forced lonely like crap

with cyanosed lips

sea-blue nose and finger-tips,

Its tattered and torn dirty wrap

make it shiver in freezing grasp.

A filthy black cat

edges on to the holed bin

searching for easy rats

And finds its food

tearing at the babe's hair

with their sharp teeth

gnawing at its ears

to complete their feed,

As the cat jumps in

with a screeching meow

the rats let loose

a clicking squeak

A bloody chaos ensues,

The only sin of the infantBEING BORN.


The poetry Dr. Suraya Nasim writes is straight from the heart. It has no fixed pattern. It doesn’t follow any particular rule. The poems come as a flow. His poems are simple and easy to read and hopefully easier to understand. English was one of his favorite subjects in school along with science. The prescriptions he writes are from the brain but the poems he writes are definitely from his heart. He was nominated for the Booker Award in 2013.




WAMAN GOVIND HOVAL (Translated by M.D.Hatknagalekar)

Waman Govind Hoval (born in 1938) is a well known Marathi writer for his concern for Dalits, who are the victims of social justice. He is known for his rustic style, crisp dialogues and the tongue-in-cheek humour that often startles the readers. Yelkot (1982) and Varasdar (1986) are his collections of short stories.


There was something really wrong with the State Transport bus. It had come up the winding road in the mountain as if with a life-time effort. The road was now down-hill and yet the bus moved as slowly as a sick man walking with the help of another. It reached the plain where the dispensary building was situated, and stood still, like an obstinate bull. Now, the destination was hardly a mile or two away. But the driver was sore and the conductor had no option but to be silent. When they realized that the bus wouldn't move any faster, a couple of passengers exclaimed: "Goddammit for a bloody nuisance!" 

The conductor asked the passengers to get down and they all put their strength together to push the bus. Having gained this initial momentum, the bus started. Passengers clambered up, jostling one another. The conductor rang the bell and the bus gradually took on speed. It entered the village reluctantly like a truant child being dragged to school. As it wound its way through the curves on the outskirts, it groaned and croaked like a hen about to lay eggs, and stopped with a bang in front of Bhujaba Patil's residence. As it halted, it gave a big lurch, sending the passengers helter-skelter, churned like water in a pitcher when the carrier stumbles.

All the passengers got down. 

The coolie put his hand on a huge wooden box and shouted, 'Whose box is this?' 

Bayaji, who was brushing away the dust from his body, answered, 'Oh, it's mine , please lower it down.' 

The coolie heaved and grunted as he lowered the box which Bayaji caught with ease.

Bayaji had packed his entire household goods in this box. There was no longer any reason to hang around in Bombay. He had worked honestly for the past thirty-five years in the dockyard and had retired from service two months before. Not that he had held an important position. He had merely got an extension for two years; during that period he had become a supervisor. Otherwise his entire life had been spent lifting heavy loads. He had worked very hard whenever he could, day and night. 

Bayaji had crossed sixty but was in sound health. He had a sturdy frame right from birth, and hard work had given a well formed shape to his strong body. He paid fifteen paise to the coolie, put the box, in which he had thrown pots and pans and sundry other things, on his own head and began to walk in the direction of his house.

As he reached Kadam's house, he saw Bhujaba coming towards him. Bhujaba was a known rascal of the village. Bayaji balanced the burden on his head. Straightening his neck, he said, 'Greetings to you, sir, how are things with you?' 

Bayaji was a Mahar by caste and according to age-old custom should have greeted Bhujaba with 'My humble salutations to you, sir, who are my father and mother.' So, when Bayaji merely said 'Greetings'. Bhujaba became furious and said, 'Do you think you can become a Brahmin merely by saying "Greetings"? Can you forget your position simply because you've turned Buddhist?' 

Bayaji was nonplussed. For a moment, he was tempted to knock him down with his box but realised that he couldn't afford to do so. Besides, now he had come back to his village for good. He was to spend the rest of his days on this soil and would be interred in the same soil. He would not be able to return to Pune or Bombay hereafter. It was not a good policy to incur the hostility of anyone in the village, least so of the Patil, the village headman.

So he said in a meek tone, 'Sir, why spring this on me even before I set foot on the soil of my forefathers? I have to stay here till the end of my life.' 

'Why? Aren't you going back to your job?' asked Bhujaba. 'No sir, my service is over, I've turned sixty.' With this Bayaji lifted the load from his head a little to place it in position. 

'Then you've collected your fund amount?' Bhujaba was taking his measure. 'Yes, sir', Bayaji replied with pride. 'How much?' Bhujaba asked greedily. 'Not much, what can a daily worker earn?' Bayaji answered. 'Why won't you mention the figure, man?' Bhujaba persisted artfully.

'Some two and a half thousand rupees.' Bayaji gave the correct figure. 

'Bayaji, you have a heavy load on your head. Go to your house first. We'll talk at leisure later.' Bhujaba said in mock sympathy. 

'Yes, yes' Bayaji mumbled and walked in the direction of his house. At the moment, Bayaji was the proud owner of two and a half thousand rupees in cash, so it made no difference whether he was an untouchable or a Buddhist. If only one could swindle out of the untouchable Bayaji- or rather Buddhist. If only one could swindle out of the untouchable Bayaji -or rather Buddhist Bayaji- four or five hundred rupees, that was enough. With the thought in his mind, Bhujaba entered his wada, the big house. 

Exchanging pleasantries with people he met on the way, Bayaji reached the public building called Takkya in the untouchables' settlement. The building was named Buddha Vihar by those who had embraced Buddhism. As Bayaji neared Buddha Vihar, the children, who were playing with a ball made of rags, finished their game and cried out, 'Baiju Nana is here, Baiju Nana is here!' and scampered in the direction of Bayaji's house. Bayaji's eightyfive-year-old mother quickly scrambled to her feet. She had aged much but her old-worn frame was still sturdy, and her teeth were strong enough to break grams. She could thread a needle without help. When she heard of Bayaji's arrival her heart swelled.

As Bayaji came in, his wife concealed her joy with the end of her sari and took down the box from his head. His grandchildren clung to him and began to twist the folds of his dhoti. The neighbouring children watched the scene in idle curiosity 

'Come, get into the house, children!' said Bayaji. His mother walked out with a bent back and told Bayaji to wait outside the door. Bayaji obeyed. 

The old woman came forward, poured some water over the piece of bread in her hand, moved it around Bayaji's face and flung it away as an offering. She ran her palms over his cheeks and pressed her fingers on her temples. All eight fingers gave out a cracking sound.

Bayaji's family was doing well .He had eight children in all, six sons and two daughters. The daughters had been married off and had given birth to children. The elder son looked after the fields, the next two sons were in government service, the one after them was a school- teacher and the sixth one was still studying. Since they knew that Bayaji was coming home for good, the elder son in service and the two daughters were already home to greet him. All of them wondered what their father had got for them from his lifetime's earnings. 

The next day when Bayaji opened the box, it revealed only some pots and pans, nails and photographs. 

Looking at these, the elder daughter asked, 'Nana, how is it that you haven't brought anything for us?'

Bayaji was amused that his daughters thought in this childish manner even after they had children of their own. He ran his eyes over all his children and said, 'Look here, children,

if I had brought new clothes for you, they'd tear, if I had brought an ornament it would soon wear out. Out of my earnings I wish you to have something that'll last longer.

Bayaji paused after these words. His eldest son was godly. He said, 'Neither we nor our wives want anything. Tell us what you'd like us to do.' 'Look children, ours is such a large family. Even at mealtime, we've to eat by turns or sit crowded, knocking our knees together. I wish to build a house out of my earnings, and it has to be a storeyed house; the usual three-portioned house won't be adequate for us.' All were happy with this plan. The plan was finalised and the foundation of the storeyed house was laid on the auspicious New Year Day.


The news that Bayaji was building a storeyed house spread like a cry from the rooftops. There was only one storeyed house in the village and that belonged to Kondiba Patil. That Bayaji, an untouchable creature, should think of a rival storeyed house was too much for Kondiba to bear. Others also murmured that the untouchables were forgetting their position.

Work on the foundation had started. Dattaram Vadar was given the contract of construction. The foundation trenches were filled with mud, bits of stone and other fillings. Work progressed with speed. One day Bayaji saw Kondiba coming towards him and greeted him. 'It's with your blessings that I have ventured on this storeyed house.' 

'Baiju, you shouldn't lose your head simply because you've set aside some money. Do you aspire to an equal status with us by building this house? The poor should remain content with their cottage, understand?' Kondiba remarked rather sharply.

'No Patil, please don't misunderstand me.' Bayaji was a little dizzy with nervousness. 

'How do you say that? One should keep to one's position. You shouldn't let a little money turn your head.' 

'I only wish to build a shelter for my family. Then I shall be free to breathe my last.' Bayaji answered.

'Who says you shouldn't have a house? You can have a small house with three convenient portions, a veranda in the front and at the back and the living section in the middle. Why spend unnecessarily on a storeyed house?' Patil gave his counsel. 

'No, but……' Bayaji faltered. 

'You may go in for a storeyed house only if you don't wish to stay in this village. I hope you know what I mean.' Kondiba shot out as a warning and walked away. Other ruffians in the village threatened Bayaji in a similar manner.

Out of fear Bayaji had to abandon plans for the storeyed house. The conventional three-portioned house was taken up. Work was resumed and the walls rose rapidly. The middle portion was a little elevated and a small first storey fixed up there with a wooden flooring. This part could be reached by stairs rising from the kitchen. No one could guess from the outside that there was a first storey to the house. Bayaji had to make the best of things.

The house was complete and the traditional housewarming ceremony was planned. Invitations were sent to relatives in different villages. The village elders, by convention, could not be invited to a meal or refreshments, so they were invited to the ceremonial paan-supari. Bayaji put up a fine pandal in front of the house. His sons worked hard for two full days on the decorations. Relatives started arriving. Well-known devotional singers, Kadegaonkar Buwa, Parasu Buwa, Kalekar Bapu Master,Jija Buwa and Vithoba of Wadgaon came with their troupes. People looked forward with delight to the forthcoming contest among the various troupes. 

In the evening four petromax lights were hung in the four corners of the pandal. It lent a unique golden yellow light to the surroundings. Guests were engrossed in conversation. 

Kondiba Patil was soon there. With him was the thug Bhujaba and four or five seasoned rascals like Vithoba Ghayakute and Parasu Martanda. These people felt uneasy at the sight of the brand new house, the impressive pandal and the crowd of smiling faces.

Their eyes roved all over the place. Bayaji led them up the stairs in the kitchen. The first floor looked like a drawing room. The walls were radiant with blue oil-paint. The fresh colour gave out a pleasant smell. Framed pictures of great men like Lord Buddha, Dr. Babasaheb Amebedkar, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and others hung on the walls. The loft-like first floor was filled with a pious and holy ambience. 

Bayaji spread a rough woollen carpet for Patil and the other high-caste people. Patil sat quietly on that. His companions rather uncomfortable took their positions around him; Bayaji offered them the customary betel leaves. Patil accepted the leaves but immediately gave it back to Bayaji with the remark, 'Yes, it's all very nice!'

'But why don't you accept the betel leaves?' Bayaji asked nervously. Bhujaba smiled artificially and said, 'It's enough that your offering is honoured; is it also necessary to eat it? We'll make a move now.' With this Kondiba Patil, Bhujaba and his companions rose to leave. As they came down, Bhujaba felt as if he were tumbling down the stairs. 

They eyed one another as if to say, 'This untouchable worm has got a swollen head. He needs proper handling.' 

Bayaji fed all his guests with meal of shira and puris. Along with betel nuts items of gossip rolled over their tongues and then the session of social devotional songs began.

Among the Bhajan singers, Kalekar Bapu Master has a superior voice. Kadegaonkar Buwa was better at classical singing. Devotional songs were sung in praise of Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar and Lord Buddha. People swayed their heads in appreciation as the programme gathered momentum. It was two o' clock in the morning. Bayaji was strutting about in the pandal. He sat down by a guest now and then, to inquire after his welfare. Small children, unable to resist sleep, had dropped off like bundles of rags. Women sat in the front verandah. Bayaji's children were busy preparing tea for a second round. They had put tea powder and sugar into a pot on a trenched stove and waited for the water to boil. The bhajan was in full swing. 'I had a dream at night and my breast was full of feeling,' went the line. 

The group advanced from baseless devotionals - like 'From the east came a horde of ghosts, each one with seven heads' - to social devotionals. 

Kalekar Bapu Master's powerful voice rose up, `Take to heart the sweet advice of Bhimaraya and bow down to Buddha for the emancipation of the whole world. I fly to the refuge of Lord Buddha, I fly to the refuge of the Faith; I fly to the refuge of the Faithful.' The song rent the air, filling it with joy. And then the undreamt-of incident took place.

Bayaji's new house had caught fire from all sides. It had suddenly flared up. The womenfolk in the front verandah screamed in confusion. The guests stood up swiftly and began to pull out of the women like a herd of cattle. 

Bayaji was frantic. He ran around crying, 'My house, my storeyed house! It's on fire. My enemy has taken revenge on me.' He entered the roaring flames, crying 'My House, my house.' He climbed up, pulled the pictures of Buddha and Babasaheb from the walls and hurled them down. As he was about to come down the stairs, it crumbled down in flames. People pulled up water from a nearby well to put out the dreadful fire but it could not be easily contained. 'Bayaji, jump down, quick, jump,' people shouted. Women and children were crying and screaming. Now that the staircase had collapsed, no one could go up. Scorched in the flames, Bayaji ran around like a trapped creature, howling all the time, 'My house, my house!'

And then the upper storey itself came down with a crash and along with it Bayaji, with a resounding thud. People pulled him out. 

Bayaji was burnt all over. He was still wailing, My house, my house! Bayaji's children encircled him and cried their hearts out. 

The guests were busy putting out the fire. All Bayaji's hopes had been reduced to ashes. What was the use of putting out the fire now?

Bayaji was badly burnt and he was in great agony. He asked for water all the time. As his eyes began to roll in his head, his eldest son moved closer, gulped down the sorrow that was surging in his throat and asked, 'Nana, what's your last wish?' 

'Sons, I want you to build a storeyed house, I've no other wish.' With these words, his head collapsed like the storeyed house. Bayaji was quiet and the fire too had calmed down. 

Bayaji's mother wept bitterly. 'Your father passed away without giving me a burial. At least your hands should have pushed the dust over my dead body. Bayaji, speak to me.' She was mad with grief.

Bayaji's wife was sobbing her heart out, crying repeatedly, 'Who's done this evil to us? Let the house burn to cinders. Save my husband first!' 

The entire family was shattered by the calamity. The spirits of all the men were dampened like a cooking fire on which water has been poured. 

In the morning the village officers and witnesses visited the place to record the facts of the accident. 'Bayaji's death was the result of an accident due to a petromax flare-up,' was their conclusion.

The house was burning before the house-warming ceremony was over and Bayaji was in ashes in the cemetery instead of enjoying the comforts of a retired life. 

After the funeral, people returned hanging their heads. All of them were pained at heart to think that having come to celebrate the housewarming, they had the misfortune to attend the funeral of the host. 

All were sitting in a sullen mood in the pandal when Bayaji's eldest son came out with three or four baskets, a spade a pickaxe and a hoe. He outlined a square with the pickaxe and began to dig. 

The eldest son was digging, the second was gathering the earth with his spade and the others were lifting it away in baskets. 

The guests asked in amazement, 'Children, you are in mourning! What's this you're doing?' 

'Our father's soul cannot rest in peace unless we do this.'

'But what is it that you're doing?' 

'We're starting on a house, not one with a concealed first floor but a regular two-storeyed house,' replied the eldest son of Bayaji. And the six brothers resumed with determination the work of digging the foundation of a two-storeyed house.'