Tales of Bengal eBook

Surendranath Banerjea
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 145 pages of information about Tales of Bengal.
within a radius of four miles from Kadampur itself.  Once master of the situation he drew in his horns, lending money only to people who could give ample security in land, government papers, or jewellery.  He also started a tejarati business (loans of rice, for seed and maintenance during the “slack” months, repaid in kind, with heavy interest, after the harvest).  Although few Khataks (customers) were able to extricate their property from his clutches or clear off their debit balances, Chandra Babu continued to be in great request.  He was heard to boast that every family in or near Kadampur, except the Basus, were on his books.  The rapid growth of his dealings compelled him to engage a gomastha (manager) in the person of Santi Priya Das, who had been a village schoolmaster notorious for cruelty.  The duties of his new office were entirely to Santi Priya’s liking, and he performed them to Chandra Babu’s unqualified approval.

On a certain morning in late August, Chandra Babu sat in his office to receive applications for money or grain.  One of his customers named Karim Sheikh came in and squatted close to the door, after salaming profoundly.  On seeing him Chandra Babu at once remembered that his bond had run out on 15th July, and that he owed nearly Rs. 100, principal and interest.  He therefore addressed the newcomer in accents of wrath.  “What do you want here, you son of a pig?”

“Babuji,” pleaded Karim, “my stars are unlucky.  You know how wretched the rice harvest has been.”

“Yes, we know all that,” replied Santi, who sat near his master.  “It’s the old story, when people who can pay won’t pay.  Have you brought the money, eh?”

Karim was obliged to confess he had not.

“Then why have you come here?” roared Chandra Babu.  “To show your face, I suppose.  We see hundreds of better-looking fellows than you daily.  You have got to pay up at once, you badmash (rascal).”

Karim’s wrath was stirred by this expression.  He replied, “Now, Babu, don’t be abusive; I won’t stand it”.

“What, do you want to teach me manners, Maulvie Saheb (doctor learned in Mohammadan law)?” asked Chandra Babu sarcastically.

An exchange of compliments followed which were not altogether to Shylock’s advantage, and at length he roared, “Get out of this office, you rascal, and look out for squalls!  I’ll sell you up!” Karim left in high dudgeon, inviting Chandra Babu to do his worst, and the latter forthwith concocted a scheme of vengeance with his manager.

Next day Santi obtained a summons against Karim from the Munsiff (civil judge of first instance) of Ghoria and, by bribing the court process-server, induced him to make a false return of service.  In due course the suit came on for hearing, and as the defendant was of course absent, it was decreed against him ex parte.  Execution being also granted, Santi accompanied the court bailiff to Karim’s house, where they seized all his movable property and carried it off to the Court, leaving him in bewilderment and tears.  He was unable to tear himself away from his gutted home but sat for hours under a tree hard by, pondering on his ill-fortune.  Not until the sun had set and village cattle began to file in from pasture, did he cast one lingering look on the scene of his childhood and walk away with a sigh, whither no one cared to inquire.

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Project Gutenberg
Tales of Bengal from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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