Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  About the Author
  The Precious Present
  The Devil Outwitted
  Just a Nickname
  The Son-in-Law
  Eh! Oh!
  The Inauspicious Bride
  Himal and Nagrai
  The Haunted Mosque
  The Intruder
  The Burglar's Gift
  The Two Thugs
  The Patwari and the ...
  The Upstart
  Two Brothers
  The Merciful Burglar
  The Clever Lawyer ...
  Counting Ripples
  The Fugitive Fawn
  The Mortal Utensils
  The Hydra-Headed
  The Physician's Son
  The Professional Wedding ...
  The Village Teacher
  The Opium Smokers
  The Drone
  Telltale Narration
  Download Book

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Chapter 9

The Intruder

"What 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 shoulder.

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 tehsil. The 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.

After some time the master managed to secure for his servant the patronage of the tehsildar and the peasant's son was accepted as a stipendiary in the tehsil. Thestipendiaries 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 came 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 himself.

The peasant's 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.

The stipendiary felt slightly elated in spirit as his face seemed to indicate.

The waziri-wozarat at 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! "

The ex-stipendiary stepped out of the office, cast a last lingering look on the tehsil and took the road to his village.



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