The Shroud: Premchand

3324 WordsOct 5, 201214 Pages
The Shroud: Premchand Outside the hut, father and son sat before the dying embers in silence. Inside, the son’s young wife, Budhiya, was thrashing about in labor. Every now and then, a blood-curdling shriek emerged from her mouth and they felt their hearts stop. It was a winter night, the earth was sunk in silence and the whole village had dissolved into the darkness. Ghisu said, “Looks like she’s not going to make it. She’s been like this all day. Go take a look.” Madhav replied irritably, “If she’s going to die, why doesn’t she do it quickly? What’s the point of taking a look?” “You’re pretty harsh. You’ve had a good time with her all year, and now? Such callousness?” “Well, I can’t stand to see her suffer and throw herself about…show more content…
I’ve had nine sons, there was never anything in the house, but god got us through the mess somehow.” In a society where people who toil day and night are not much better off than these two, and instead of farmers it’s those who exploit them that grow rich, it’s no surprise that attitudes like this develop. Let’s say that Ghisu was cleverer than the farmers, that instead of joining those simple-minded peasants, he’d joined the company of conmen. Of course, he did not have the capacity to follow that company’s rules and regulations, which was why others of his ilk had become chiefs and headmen in the village while he remained the one at whom fingers were pointed. Still, he had the consolation that, however badly off he was, he didn’t have to work as achingly hard as the others and that people could not take undue advantage of his simplicity and helplessness. The two of them pulled out the potatoes and devoured them, hot as they were. They had eaten nothing since the previous day. They didn’t even have the patience to let them cool so, every now and then, they scalded their tongues. When it was peeled, the outer part of the potato did not seem that hot but, as soon as it was bitten, the inner part burned the tongue, the throat and the palate. Instead of holding that burning coal in one’s mouth, it seemed wiser to send it down as soon as possible to where there was more to cool it. That’s why they
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