Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  Twin Scientists
  Daddy’s Distress
  Breaking the Horse
  She is the Apple of My Eye
  Daddy’s Coronation
  The In-Law Tussle
  Broken Pen
  The Dudda
  Daddy’s Nightmare
  Rise and Fall
  Rivalry and Rebuff 
  Mini Marco Polo
  Royal Dudda
  Facing the Challenge
  Yes, No? May be So
  Crest Fallen
  Shock Treatment
  Grandma’s Shivratri
  Conquering Death
  Prickly Thistle
  Book in pdf format

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Chapter 3

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 affair.

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 the reply.

"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 Bavington.

"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 Prithve.

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.



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