Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Manto's Kashmiri Coolie

When the smoke lessened, the policemen saw that their quarry was a Kashmiri coolie. He was lugging a heavy sack and running with admirable ease despite the weight on his back. The policemen's throats ran dry with blowing their whistles, but the Kashmiri coolie's pace didn't slacken.
By now, the policemen were panting. Tired and fed up with the chase, one of them took out a gun anf fired. The bullet hit the man in his back. The sack slipped and rolled down. The man turned, and looked at the still-running policemen with frightened eyes. He also saw the blood seeping down his calf. But with a quick jerk, he bent bent, picked up the sack and began to limp away hurriedly. The policemen thought,"Let him go to hell."
The Kashmiri coolie was limping badly when he staggered and fell heavily - the sack fell on top of him.
The policemen swooped down on him and took him away to the police station. The man kept pleading all the way,"Gentlemen, why are you arresting me? I am a poor man...I was only taking a sack of rice...to eat at home...why have you shot me..." But no one paid him any heed.
The Kashmiri coolie went on with his explanations at the police station, pleading and crying,"Sir, there were others in the bazaar...they were carrying away many big things...I have only taken one sack of rice...I am a poor man...I can only afford to eat plain rice."
Till, finally, he gre tired and desperate. he took off his skull-cap, wiped the sweat streaming from his forehead, cast one last, lingering look at the sack of tempting rice, then stretched his palm before the Thanedar abd said,"All right, sir, you keep the sack with you...but pay me my labour charges - four annas."

Extract from cameo titled 'Payment' from 'Black Borders: A collection of 32 cameos', Rakhshanda Jalil's translation of Saadat Hasan Manto's Siyah Hashiye (1947).
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Image: Kralkhod, Srinagar, 2008
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Previously: Pundit Manto’s First Letter to Pundit Nehru

2 comments:

  1. Dear Vinayak, 8th Photograph from the top titled "Martin Harlimann 1927_Parbat." It has a brook at the bottom of the hill. There was no brook at Hari Parbat from any side. I asked my Father who is nearly 80 now, he too is certain that there never was any water body there. And we are from Ali Kadal. Reason i'm bugging u is i'm intrigued by this picture. Can u shed some light. Dinesh

    ReplyDelete

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