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The wall (standard:Satire, 836 words)
Author: monAdded: Oct 16 2005Views/Reads: 3029/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
The story has been set in a serene Indian village once under the British reign.The story is basically in the form of a dialouge between the protagonist of the story , an old villager, and a city-based curator of a museum. The plot revolves around the old
 



Acres and acres of greenery spread like velvet drapes, ending at the
horizon, where hills rose magnificently. 

In the kindly shadows of these hills, stood a small cluster of thatched
cottages, which made up the small village of Hariyal. The sun was 
gliding across the sky, bathing the village in honey coloured warmth.  
Beyond the last cottage, a silver brook entwined in pink lotuses danced 
and rippled over the grey rocks. Across the serpentine brook, standing 
somewhat in a tired stoop was a solitary wall. Raw yellow creepers had 
invaded most of it. Sweet pink honeysuckle grew in small clusters 
kissing its feet. The red- grey bricks had worn away at places 
revealing small holes where magpies had built their nests. 

Gazing at this strange piece of architecture was an even stranger party
- a white old man from the village, and a straight backboned city babu 
in a correct black   suit. “Ji sahib”, said the weathered looking man, 
his gnarled fingers shaking slightly as he pointed towards the wall. 
“This is a part of the wall that Aswin Loda built to keep the angrez 
away.” The man from the city, (who was the curator of the national 
museum), gazed at the wall with a curious expression that clearly 
expressed his doubts at the authenticity of the old fellow's words.  He 
looked at him, and his eyes; and saw in their hazel –brown warmth tears 
of true, aged remembrance. And he believed him. 

“I remember “, said the old man, nodding his head knowledgeably, “I was
only a kid then. The angrez wanted to take the land from us. So Aswin 
loda built it all around the parish. He was a good man – Aswin Loda 
was. And intelligent too. He made the pujari chant sacred words so they 
couldn't break the wall. Oh they tried hard, they did.” he stopped, to 
smile triumphantly, then continued, “They fired cannons and bullets. 
And didn't they curse!  Boom-boom-boom, the cannons and the curses hit 
the wall all night - you can still see dark marks over there. And we 
rejoiced, yes we did” the old man broke off, cackling madly, as if he 
could feel the predicament of the British to this day. 

The curator stared at this new discovery.  Interesting. Perfect for the
Unreported Monuments of The British Era section. “Listen, cha-chaji,” 
the curator said delicately, “why don't I take the wall away? We have a 
process of relocation now...For national good..... It looks like a real 
national treasure to me.......” 

“Young man,” the villager bellowed, his chest heaving and his eyes
narrowing in rage “you are insulting us. It is a gift from our 
greatest, noblest, ancestor - the purest soul if there ever was! And 
you- you dare to suggest such a thing to me! National good indeed!” the 
old man sneered, his face anger-stricken. 

“Please, cha-chaji, just think! Your Aswin Loda deserves acknowledgment.
He was a great son of the country. And to think nobody has heard of 
him! Don't you think he deserves a respectable remembrance at the very 
least?” 

“It belongs to the people of Hariyal.......” 

“It is on your property” 

“No, no! God will be highly displeased with me. 

“Here” said the curator, pushing two very crisp five hundred rupee notes
into the hands of the villager. “Offer some Puja at the temple. I am 
sure God will forgive you. 

“But I .........” 

Another hundred-rupee note. 

“All right!” the old man said with a dramatic sigh. If you insist
so....”his voice trailed off. 

Ah, thought the curator, the deal of a lifetime. “Right, then. I will
order my men to bring the necessary equipment. We will need a 
crane....” Here he lapsed into silence, thinking. “You don't know what 
a great service you have rendered to the nation” he said, patting the 
old man on his shoulder and beaming at him. 

The old man shrugged in an if-you-say-so manner and shuffled away to his
cottage on the other side of the pond, leaving the curator in an 
ecstatic stupor. 

Inside the cottage, his little grand daughter was cooking rice. “Oi,
Gauri, go and buy some tobacco for my hookah, and buy some red bangles 
for your slender wrists; and don't forget to clear the baniya's debt.” 
he said, thrusting the hundred rupee note into Gauri's palm - who was 
so astonished, that no words escaped her. “Run along, child “he chided. 


Gauri ran. 

He slowly went over to his cot, and wrapping the remaining money in a
shal leaf, pushed it under the mattress as he murmured to himself “Ah! 
The wall was remarkable, very remarkable indeed. Aswin loda built it, 
yes. But as far I remember,” he chuckled to himself, “he built it 
around his house to stop his daughter from meeting the blacksmith's son 
who lived on the other side of the lotus pond” 

KEY: Sahib- Indian for sir Angrez- British cha-chaji- uncle; a
respectable word for an elderly Puja - prayer Baniya- grocer Shal- a 
kind of evergreen tree 


   


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