Category Archives: article on crime

SHORT STORY: CHILD REMAND HOME

Copyright@shravancharitymission

    I had once gone to a child remand home, to deliver a lecture, to children who were undergoing a prison term for the crime they had committed. Most of them out there, were under eighteen. They all had innocent faces. And had you not seen them in those confines, you wouldn’t have ever believed their indulgence into, such devious affairs.

    The remand home had a strength of some two hundred children. They were kept under observation. Where, they all had a strict routine. Starting right from morning prayers, to physical exercises, to a good amount of time for their studies and even recreation. It had many classes with proper benches that I could see.

    The warden of the home, as a goodwill gesture took me around. I was enjoying the trip as it was the first of its kind for me. We finally walked into the class room. All the children got up as a mark of respect for the warden. It appeared, the class had been in progress for some time now, and I was the last faculty.

    I spent about an hour with the children. They were indeed quite bright, and I felt quite refreshed interacting with them. Finally, the class was over when these children left for their dormitories.

    But before leaving the remand home. The warden spent some time with me over a cup of tea, quite explaining the reasons for the increase in child crime rate. I was shocked when he told me the story of a child in the red shirt. His name was Ashok and he was sitting on the last bench when I was taking my class. He appeared quite healthy, tough and even mature for the age of sixteen.

    He had murdered his grandfather at the age of fourteen for which he was undergoing a sentence of three years since he was not an adult when he committed the crime. But the grapevine had something else to say, which the warden narrated to me.

   Ashok’s grandfather, Kewal Ram had sixteen acres of farm land with two sons. One happened to be Askok’s father Ghanshyam and the other, his uncle, Sukhram. Both Ghanshyam and Sukhram were pestering their father for quite some time now to sell off their farm land and buy a few shops in the city as they were not interested in farming. But Kewal Ram was not interested in selling his ancestral land. When, the discord reached a flash point. One night after drinks they killed their father and got Ashok to own up the crime since he was only fourteen then. Because, as a juvenile delinquent he would be out in just three years. Whereas, they would have gone in, for a full lifetime.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

   

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BOOK CORNER: THE TELL-TALE HEART by Edgar Allan Poe

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

THE TELL-TALE HEART

By Edgar Allan Poe

    The Tell-Tale Heart is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published in 1843 and is relayed by an unnamed narrator who endeavours to convince the reader of his sanity while simultaneously describing a murder he committed. You could call it self-confession. Since then, some movies have also been made on this particular theme.

    There are only five characters in the story. The narrator, the old man and the three policemen. To me the story appears to be a horror. The entire narration is in first person. Where, the narrator stays with the old man in the same house and is apparently quite fond of him and that also makes him quite friendly. But then an eye of the old man keeps irritating and scaring the narrator who feels it is a ‘devil’s eye’ each time he sees it. He feels the eye has a yellow film because of which it looks like an ‘evil’s eye’ or one could say a ‘vulture’s eye.’

    Even when the narrator is quite friendly with the old man, but whenever he sees that ‘evil eye’ something happens to him. One could call it ‘over acuteness of the senses.’ Upon seeing the eye, he becomes very aggressive and loses his cool. So, one day he decides to murder the old man just to get rid of the ‘evil eye’—you can call it a Nazi’s solution. During Hitler’s time. Nazi’s pursued this methodology of liquidating anything they didn’t like. And that reminds me of the many Jews they had liquidated.

    The narrator soon starts planning for the murder. Consequent to which he enters the chamber of the old man on seven nights. But on seeing the him fast asleep with his eyes closed he goes back. Because he reacts only when he sees the ‘vulture eye.’ The narrator each day carries a lantern along with him. The lantern is covered with a black paper all around. Except for a slit that is kept open and from that, a ray of light almost like a torch beam falls on the face of the old man.

    On the eight night when he enters the old man’s room. He finally finds the evil eye of the old man open. This is when he loses his temper and shrieks out of anger. He then pulls the old man down and overturns the bed on to him and suffocates him to death. But before the death when the narrator enters the room his lantern slips out of his hand and makes a sound and with that the old man gets up.  He looks around for the noise but is unable to find it. And because of the minor mishap the narrator stands still in a corner, so that he doesn’t get noticed. And while standing there in that pin drop silence he listens to the heartbeat of the old man. After, sometime, when the old man decides to go back to sleep he goes close to him when he finds the old man lying maybe half asleep with his evil eye open and this is when he gets enraged and he attacks. After killing him. He dismembers his body and buries it beneath the floorboards of the chamber.

    Upon hearing the narrators scream the cops are informed perhaps by some neighbour. At 4 am in the morning three policemen enter the house to investigate. But by now the narrator has done away with the body. After which he places all the furniture on top of the floor planks so that no one suspects the location where the body is buried.

    The police come and start their interrogation. The narrator very smartly answers all the questions. He feels he is successful in befooling the policemen. And the policemen too, don’t suspect him. He tells them that he has not seen the old man for a couple of days now. Perhaps, he had gone out shopping or even to his village.

    But then things suddenly change when the narrator gets to hear the heart beat of the old man. Initially the beat is low but gradually it starts getting louder. Slowly, he begins to feel scared. Thinking that even the cops are hearing it. But in reality it is the ticking of his conscience that is making the sound and not the heartbeat of the dead old man. So the cops can’t hear it.

    And finally, when he is unable to take it anymore and is overwhelmed with the feeling that the cops are also hearing the heartbeat he screams and confesses. Yes, he has murdered the old man and hid the body below the floorboards.

    This is when he is arrested for the crime.

    Moral of the story: It is hard to carry the baggage of crime solo. Sooner or later, one needs to confess it.   

    I would give the story nine out of ten.

***

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

A SHORT POINT ABOUT AGATHA CHRISTIE

Copyright@shravancharitymission

A SHORT POINT ABOUT AGATHA CHRISTIE

    Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the queen of crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English with another billion in hundred foreign languages. She is the most widely published author of all times and in many languages. She is outsold only by Bible and William Shakespeare. But do you know why?

    Because she wrote about crime which is a popular topic and concerns everyone. I can’t think of a place or a country where crime is not committed. I can’t think of an era when crime was not committed. A crime free world will only remain a dream.

    I’m not trying to take away her writing genius. All I’m trying to say is that even the topic she chose–‘crime’ accentuated her success. We all can take a lesson from the all time great Agatha Christie and that is to write about things that touches the chord of the masses and try an excel in that.

    She is the author of eighty crime novels and short story collections, nineteen plays, six novels written under the name of Mary Westmacott.

    Agatha Christie’s first novel—‘The mysterious affair at styles’ was written towards the end of the first world war. And in this novel she created ‘Hercule Poirot.’ The little Belgian detective who was destined to become the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes.

***

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK TALK: OLIVER TWIST by Charles Dickens

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

 

STORYLINE

Workhouse years

    Oliver Twist is born and raised into a life of poverty and misfortune in a workhouse in an unnamed town 70 miles north of London. Orphaned by his mother’s sad demise during childbirth and his father’s mysterious absence, Oliver is meagrely provided for under the terms of the ‘Poor Law’ and spends the first nine years of his living at a baby farm in the ‘care’ of a woman named Mrs Mann. Oliver is brought up with little food and few comforts. Around the time of Oliver’s ninth birthday, Mr Bumble, the parish beadle, removes Oliver from the baby farm and puts him to work picking and weaving oakum at the main workhouse. Oliver, who toils with very little food, remains in the workhouse for six months. One day, the desperately hungry boys decide to draw lots. The loser must ask for another portion of gruel. The task falls to Oliver, who at the next meal comes forward trembling, bowl in hand, and begs Mr Bumble for gruel with his famous request. “Please, sir, I want some more.”

    A great uproar ensues. The board of well-fed gentlemen who administer the workhouse hypocritically offer five pounds to any person wishing to take on the boy as an apprentice. Mr Gamfield, a brutal chimney sweep, almost claims Oliver. However, when he begs despairingly not to be sent away with ‘that dreadful man,’ a kindly magistrate refuses to sign the indentures. Later Mr Sowerberry, an undertaker employed by the parish, takes Oliver into his service. He treats Oliver better and, because of the boy’s sorrowful countenance, uses him as a mourner at children’s funerals. Mr Sowerberry is in an unhappy marriage, and his wife looks down on Oliver and loses few opportunities to underfeed and mistreat him. He also suffers torment at the hands of Noah Claypole, an oafish and bullying fellow apprentice and ‘charity boy’ who is jealous of Oliver’s promotion to mute, and Charlotte, the Sowerberry’s maidservant, who is in love with Noah.

    Wanting to bait Oliver, Noah insults the memory of Oliver’s mother, calling her ‘a regular right-down bad “un.”’ Enraged, Oliver assaults the much bigger boy. Mrs Sowerberry takes Noah’s side, helps him to subdue, punch, and beat Oliver, and later compels her husband and Mr Bumble, who has been sent for in the aftermath of the fight, to beat Oliver once again. Once Oliver is sent to his room for the night, he breaks down and weeps. The next day, Oliver escapes from the Sowerberry’s house and later decides to run away to London to seek a better life.

London, the Artful Dodger and Fagin

    Nearing London, Oliver encounters Jack Dawkins, a pickpocket more commonly known by the nickname the ‘Artful Dodger,’ and his sidekick, a boy of a humorous nature, named Charley Bates, but Oliver’s innocent and trusting nature fails to see any dishonesty in their actions. Dodger provides Oliver with a free meal and tells him of a gentleman in London who will ‘give him lodgings for nothing, and never ask for change.’ Grateful for the unexpected assistance, Oliver follows Dodger to the ‘old gentlemen’s’ residence. In this way, Oliver unwittingly falls in with an infamous Jewish criminal known as Fagin, the gentleman of whom the Artful Dodger spoke. Ensnared, Oliver lives with Fargin and his gang of juvenile pickpockets in their lair at Saffron Hill for some time, unaware of their criminal occupations. He believes they make wallets and handkerchiefs.

    Soon, Oliver naively goes out to ‘make handkerchiefs’ with Artful Dodger and Charley Bates, only to learn that their real mission is to pick pockets. Dodger and Charley steal the handkerchief of an old gentleman named Mr Brownlow and promptly flee. When he finds his handkerchief missing, Mr Brownlow turns round, sees Oliver running away in fright, and pursues him, thinking he was the thief. Others join the chase, capture Oliver, and bring him before the magistrate. Curiously, Mr Brownlow has second thoughts about the boy—he seems reluctant to believe he is a pickpocket. To the judge’s evident disappointment, a bookstall holder who saw Dodger commit the crime clears Oliver, who, by now actually ill, faints in the courtroom. Mr Brownlow takes Oliver home and, along with his housekeeper Mrs Bedwin, cares for him.

Bill Sikes by Fred Barnard

    Oliver stays with Mr Brownlow, recovers rapidly, and blossoms from the unaccustomed kindness. His bliss is interrupted when Fagin, fearing Oliver might tell the police about his criminal gang, decides that Oliver must be brought back to his hideout. When Mr Brownlow sends  Oliver out to pay for some books, one of the gang, a young girl named Nancy, whom Oliver had previously met at Fagin’s, accosts him with help from her abusive lover, the robber Bill Sikes, and Oliver is quickly bundled back to Fagin’s lair. The thieves take the five-pound note Mr Brownlow had entrusted to him, and strip him of his fine clothes. Oliver, shocked, flees and attempts to call for police assistance, but is dragged back by the Artful Dodger, Charley, and Fagin. Nancy, alone, is sympathetic towards Oliver and saves him from beatings by Fagin and Sikes.

    In a renewed attempt to draw Oliver into a life of crime, Fagin forces him to participate in a burglary. Nancy reluctantly assists in recruiting him, all the while assuring the boy that she will help him if she can. Sikes, after threatening to kill him if he does not cooperate, puts Oliver through a small window and orders him to unlock the front door. The robbery goes wrong and Oliver is shot by people in the house and wounded in his left arm. After being abandoned by Sikes, the wounded Oliver makes it back to the house and ends up under the care of the people he was supposed to rob: Miss Rose and her guardian Mrs Maylie.

Mystery of a man called “Monks”

    The mysterious man Monks plots with Fagin to destroy Oliver’s reputation. Monks denounces Fagin’s failure to turn Oliver into a criminal, and the two of them agree on a plan to make sure he does not find out about his past. Monks is apparently related to Oliver in some way. Back in Oliver’s hometoen, Mr Bumble has married Mrs Borney, the matron of the workhouse where the story first began, only to find himself in an unhappy marriage, constantly arguing with his domineering wife. After one such argument, Mr Bumble walks to a pub where he meets Monks, who questions him about Oliver. Bumble informs Monks that he knows someone who can give Monks more information for a price, and later Monks meets secretly with the Bumbles. After Mrs Bumble tells Monks all she knows for a price, Monks takes the locket and ring proving Oliver’s parents, which had once belonged to Oliver’s mother, and drops them into the river flowing under his place. Monks relates these events to Fagin, unaware that Nancy is eavesdropping on their conversations and plans to inform Oliver’s benefactors. Mr Brownlow returns to London, where Oliver sees him, and brings him to meet the Maylies.

    Now ashamed of her role in Oliver’s kidnapping and worried for the boy’s safety, Nancy goes to Rose Maylie, staying in London. She knows that Monks and Fagin are plotting to get their hands on the boy again, and offers to meet again any Sunday night on London bridge. Rose tells Mr Brownlow, and the two then make plans with all their party in London. The first Sunday night, Nancy tries to leave for her walk, but Sikes refuses permission when she declines to state exactly where she is going. Fagin realises that Nancy is up to something, perhaps has a new boyfriend, and resolves to find out what her secret is. Meanwhile, Noah has fallen out with the undertaker Mr Sowerberry, stolen money from him, and fled to London with Charlotte. Using the name “Morris Bolter,” he joins Fagin’s gang for protection and becomes a practicer of ‘the kinchin lay’ (robbing of children), and Charlotte is put with the girls. Fagin sends Noah to watch the Artful Dodger on trial, after he is caught with a stolen silver snuff box; the Dodger is convicted while showing his style, with a punishment of transportation to Australia. Next, Noah is sent by Fagin to spy on Nancy, and discovers her meeting with Rose and Mr Brownlow on the bridge, hearing their discussion of why she did not appear the prior week and how to save Oliver from Fagin and Monks.

    Fagin angrily passes the information on to Sikes, twisting the story to make it sound as if Nancy had informed on him, when she had not. Believing Nancy to be a traitor, Sikes beats her to death in a fit of rage that very night and flees to the countryside to escape from the police and his conscience. There, Sikes is haunted by visions of Nancy and alarmed by news of her murder spreading across the countryside. He returns to London to find a hiding place and intend to steal money from Fagin and flee to France, only to die by accidentally hanging himself while attempting to flee across a rooftop from a mob angry at Nancy’s murder.

Resolution

    While Sikes is fleeing the mob, Mr Brownlow forces Monks to listen to the story connecting him, once called Edward Leeford, and Oliver as half brothers, or to face the police for his crimes. Their father was once friends with Brownlow. Mr Leeford had fallen in love with Oliver’s mother, Agnes, after Monks’ parents had separated. Mr Leeford had to help a dying friend in Rome, and then died there himself, leaving Agnes, ‘his guilty love,’ in England. Mr Brownlow has a picture. Mr Brownlow has a picture of Agnes and had begun making inquiries when he noticed a marked resemblance between her and Oliver. Monks had hunted his brother to destroy him, to gain all in their father’s will. Meeting with Monks and the Bumbles in Oliver’s native town, Brownlow asks Oliver to give half his inheritance to Monks to give him a second chance; Oliver is more than happy to comply. Monks moves to ‘the new world,’ where he squanders his money, reverts to crime, and dies in prison. Fagin is arrested, tried and condemned to gallows. On the eve of Fagin’s hanging, Oliver, accompanied by Mr Brownlow in an emotional scene, visits Fagin in Newgate Prison, in hope of retrieving papers from Monks. Fagin is lost in a world of his own fear of impending death.

    On a happier note, Rose Maylie is the long-lost sister of Agnes, and thus Oliver’s aunt. She marries her sweetheart Harry Maylie, who gives up his political ambitions to become a parson, drawing all their friends to settle near them. Oliver lives happily with Mr Brownlow, who adopts him. Noah becomes a paid, semi-professional police informer. The Bumbles lose their positions and are reduced to poverty, ending up in the workhouse themselves. Charley Bates, horrified by Sikes’s murder of Nancy, becomes an honest citizen, moves to the country, and eventually becomes prosperous.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

 

ANATH BABU’S TERROR by Satyajit Ray

Copyright@shravancharitymission

ANATH BABU’S TERROR

Satyajit Ray

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

 

    Who doesn’t know Satyajit Ray. The famous ‘Oscar’ fame film director from Tollygange and even Bollywood. Some may not know he was also a great writer. This short story of his ‘Anath Babu’s Terror’ was published earlier in one of his story collections of a dozen stories originally written in Bengali as ‘Ek Dojon Goppo.’ 

     The story was subsequently published in English under a Penguin title edited by Ruskin Bond as ‘The Penguin Book of Indian Ghost Stories’ in the year 1993.

SYNOPSIS

        ‘Anath babu’s terror’ is tale of a ghost hunter’s dare into a haunted house. The narrator, while going on a holiday to write in peace to Raghunathpur, meets Anath Babu in the train. The person appears eccentric and strange and is quite oddly and traditionally dressed. The narrator meets him again in Raghunathpur and discovers he is interested in strange and esoteric things and has travelled from one end of India to the other in search of authentic ghosts. He has spent all his life gathering information about life after death, spirits, vampires, draculas, werevolves, black magic, voodoo and the works. He has spent twenty-five years living in haunted houses, dak bungalows, and indigo cottages. Soon he comes to know about a haunted house, where the body of a Haldar who had been found lying dead on the floor, stone cold, with eyes open and staring at the ceiling.
He tells the narrator that he has decided to spend a night in the west room, the most haunted room of the house. But before that he and the narrator go to investigate the house, where Anath Babu can smell a spirit lurking in the house. The next day the narrator is unable to concentrate on his work and so he goes to meet Anath Babu, to investigate about his ghostly experience. When, the writer asks him about last night. He doesn’t answer, and on the contrary he asks the narrator to go to the west room, to get his answer. The narrator does so and when his eyes fell on the floor, a sudden creep, a wave of horror swept over him. He found Anath Babu lying on the floor, stiff and stone cold, staring at the ceiling with a look of horror in his eyes! When, he tried to run. He found Anath Babu in the passage outside laughing raucously, and his voice was drowning him in it, and also paralysing his senses! Later the narrator finds himself in his house, and his friend telling him about Anath Babu’s dead body in the mansion.

    FULL STORY

    The story is spine chilling and will grip you all over. Sitesh Babu, sick and tired of a long drift at work thinks of taking a break. He works for one of the dailies in Calcutta. Writing indeed was his hobby. He had a couple of short stories that needed further focus. For which he needed a peaceful surrounding to iron out his thoughts. So he applies for ten days leave to visit a quiet place where he could complete his stories. And, decides to head for Raghunathpur.

  But then there was a reason for his choosing Raghunathpur. Where, an old college mate of his, Biren Biswas, had his ancestral home. And while they were chatting in the coffee house one evening, talking of possible places where one could spend one’s holiday. Sitesh told Biren that he had applied for leave. To, complete his book. For which he was looking for a quiet place so that he could concentrate. Biren was spontaneous in offering him free accommodation at his home in Raghunathpur. He even said, ‘I would have gone with you, but you know how tied up I am at the moment. But you won’t have any problems as Bharadwaj will look after you. ‘He’s worked for our family for fifty years.’ Thus Sitesh decided to visit Raghunathpur. Where, on his way in the train he met Anath Babu. Sitesh just had a suitcase and that too was filled with a packet of writing paper.

    The coach was packed. Anathbandhu Mitra happened to be sitting right next to Sitesh. About fifty years of age. Not, very tall. Hair parted in the middle with a sharp look in his eyes and an amused smile playing on his lips. He appeared to have dressed for a part in a play set some fifty years ago. For no one these days wore a jacket like that, nor such collars, or glasses, or boots.

    They began to chat. It turned out that Anath Babu, too, was going to Raghunathpur. ‘Are you also going on a holiday?’ Sitesh asked him. But he did not answer and seemed to grow a little pensive. Or it may be he had failed to hear Sitesh’s question in the racket the train was making.

    The sight of Biren’s house pleased Sitesh very much. It was a nice house. With a strip of land in front that had both vegetables and flowers growing in it. There were no other houses nearby. So the possibility of being disturbed by the neighbours was non-existent.

    Despite, protests from Bharadwaj. Sitesh chose the room in the attic for himself. It was an airy little room, comfortable and totally private. He moved his things upstairs and began to unpack. It was then that he realised he had left his razor blades behind. ‘Never mind,’ said Bhardwaj, ‘Kundu Babu’s shop is only five minute walk from here. You’ll get your “bilades” there.’

    He left for the shop, soon after tea, at around 4 p.m. It appeared that the place was used more or less like a club. About seven middle-aged men were seated inside on wooden benches, chatting away to glory. One of them was saying rather agitatedly, ‘Well, it’s not something I have only heard about. I saw the whole thing with my own eyes. All right, so it happened thirty years ago. But that kind of thing cannot get wiped out from one’s memory, can it? I shall never forget what happened, especially since Haladhar Datta was a close friend of mine. In fact, even now I can’t help feeling partly responsible for his death.’

    Sitesh bought a packet of 7 O’clock blades. Then he began to loiter, looking at things he didn’t really need. The gentlemen continued, ‘Just imagine, my own friend laid a bet with me for just ten rupees and went to spend a night in that west room. I waited for a long time the next morning for him to turn up; but when he didn’t, I went with Jiten Bakshi, Haricharan Saha and a few others to look for him in the Haldar mansion. And we found him in the same room—lying dead on the floor, stone cold, eyes open and staring at the ceiling. The naked fear I saw in those eyes could only mean one thing, I tell you: ghosts. There was no injury on his person, no sign of snake-bite or anything like that. So what else could have killed him but a ghost? You tell me?’

    Another five minutes in the shop gave Sitesh a rough idea of what they were talking about. There was, apparently, a two-hundred-year-old mansion in the southern corner of Raghunathpur, which had once been owned by the Haldars, the local zamindars. It had lain abandoned for years now. A particular room in this mansion that faced the west was supposed to be haunted.

    Although in the last thirty years no one had dared to spend a night in it after the death of Haladhar Datta. The residents of Raghunathpur still felt a certain thrill thinking of the unhappy spirit that haunted the room. The reason behind this belief was both the mysterious death of Haladhar Datta, and many other instances of murders and suicides in the history of the Haldar family.

    Intrigued by this conversation, Sitesh came out of the shop only to find Anathbandhu Mitra, the gentlemen he had met in the train, standing outside, with a smile on his lips.

    ‘Did you hear what they were saying?’ he asked.

    ‘Yes I couldn’t help it.’

    ‘Do you believe in it?’

    ‘In what? Ghosts?

    ‘Yes.”

    ‘Well, you see, I have heard of haunted houses often enough. But never have I met anyone who has actually stayed in one and seen anything. So I don’t quite …’

    Anath Babu’s smile deepened.

    Would you like to see it? He said.

    ‘What?’

    ‘That house.’

    ‘See? How do you mean?’

    ‘Only from the outside. It’s not very far from here. A mile, at the most. If you go straight down this road, past the twin temples and then turn right, it’s only a quarter of a mile from there.’

    The man seemed interesting. Besides, there was no need to get back home quite so soon. So, Sitesh left with him.

*

    The Haldar mansion was not easily visible. Most of it was covered by a thick growth of wild plants and creepers. It was only the top of the gate that towered above everything else and could be seen a good ten minutes before one reached the house. The gate was really huge. The mahabatkhana over it was in shambles. A long drive led to the front veranda. A couple of statues and the remains of a fountain told us that there used to be a garden in the space between the house and the gate. The house was strangely structured. There was absolutely nothing in it that could have met even the lowest of aesthetic standards. The whole thing seemed only a shapeless heap. The last rays of the setting sun fell on its mossy walls.

    Anath Babu stared at it for a minute. Then he said, ‘As far as I know, ghosts and spirits don’t come out in daylight. Why don’t we,’ he added, winking, ‘go and take a look at that room?’

    ‘That west room? The one …?’

    ‘Yes. The one in which Haladhar Datta died.”

    The man’s interest in the matter seemed a bit exaggerated.

    Anath Babu read Sitesh’s mind.

    ‘I can see you surprised. Well, I don’t mind telling you the truth. The only reason behind my arrival in Raghunathpur is this house.’

    ‘Really?’

     ‘Yes, I had learnt in Calcutta that the house was haunted. I came all the way to see if I could catch a glimpse of the ghost. You asked me on the train why I was coming here. I didn’t reply, which must have appeared rude. But I had decided to wait until I got to know you a little better before telling you.’

    ‘But why did you have to come all the way from Calcutta to chase a ghost?’

    ‘I’ll explain that in a minute. I haven’t yet told you about my profession. Have I? The fact is that I am an authority on ghosts and all things supernatural. I have spent the last twenty five years doing research in this area. I have read everything that’s ever been published on life after death, spirits that haunt the earth, vampires, werewolves, black magic, voodoo—the lot. I had to learn seven different languages to do this. There is a Professor Norton in London who has similar interest. I have been in correspondence with him over the last three years. My articles have been published in well known magazines in Britain. I don’t wish to sound boastful, but I think it would be fair to say that no one in this country has as much knowledge about these things as I do.’

    Anath Babu spoke very sincerely. The thought that he might be telling lies or exaggerating things did not cross Sitesh Babu’s mind at all. On the contrary, Sitesh found it quite easy to believe what Anath Babu told him and his respect for the man only grew.

    After a few moments of silence, Anath said, ‘I have stayed in at least three hundred haunted houses all over the country.’

    ‘Goodness!’

    ‘Yes. In places like Jabalpur, Cherrapunji, Kanthi, Katoa, Jodhpur, Azimganj, Hazaribagh, Shiuri, Barasat … and so many others. I’ve stayed in fifty-six dak-bungalows, and at least thirty neel kuthis. Besides these, there are about fifty haunted houses in Calcutta and its suburbs where I’ve spent my nights. But …,’

    Anath Babu stopped. Then he shook his head and said. ‘The ghosts have eluded me. Perhaps they like to visit only those who don’t want to have anything to do with them. I have been disappointed time and again. Only once did I feel the presence of something strange in an old building in Tiruchirapalli near Madras. It used to be a club during British times. Do you know what happened? The room was dark and there was no breeze at all. Yet, each time I tried to light a candle, someone—or something—kept snuffing it out. I had to waste twelve matchsticks. However, with the thirteenth I did manage to light the candle; but, as soon as it was lit, the spirit vanished. Once in a house in Calcutta, too, I had a rather interesting experience. I was sitting in a dark room as usual, waiting for something to happen, when I suddenly felt a mosquito bite my scalp! Quite taken aback, I felt my head and discovered that every single strand of my hair had disappeared. I was totally bald! Was it really my own head? Or had I felt someone else’s? But no, the mosquito bite was real enough. I switched on my torch quickly and peered into the mirror. All my hair was intact. There was no sign of baldness.

    ‘These were the only two slightly queer experiences I’ve had in all these years. I had given up all hope of finding anything anywhere. But, recently, I happened to read in an old magazine about this house in Raghunathpur. So I thought I’d come and try my luck for the last time.’

    They had reached the front door by now. Anath Babu looked at his watch and said, ‘This sun sets today at 5.31 p.m. It’s now 5.15. Let’s go and take a quick look before it gets dark.’

    Perhaps Anath Babu’s interest in the supernatural was infectious. Basis which Sitesh Babu readily accepted his proposal. And like Anath even Sitesh was eager to see the inside of the house and that room in particular.

    They walked in through the front door. There was a huge courtyard and that looked like a stage. It must have been used for pujas and other festivals. There was no sign now of the joy and the laughter it once must have witnessed.

    There were verandas, around the courtyard. To their right, lay a broken palanquin, and beyond it was a staircase going up.

    It was so dark on the staircase that Anath Babu had to take a torch out of his pocket and switch it on. They had to demolish an invisible wall of cobwebs to make their way. When, they finally reached the first floor. Sitesh thought to himself, ‘if it wouldn’t be surprising at all if this house did turn out to be haunted.’

    They stood in the passage and made some rough calculations. The room on their left must have been the famous west room, they decided. Anath Babu said, ‘Let’s not waste any time. Come with me.’

    There was only one thing in the passage: a grandfather clock. Its glass was broken, one of its hands was missing and the pendulum lay to one side.

    The door to the west room was closed. Anath Babu pushed it gently with his forefinger. A nameless fear gave Sitesh goose-pimples. The door swung open.

    But the room revealed nothing unusual. It may have been a living-room once. There was a big table in the middle with a missing top. Only the four legs stood upright. An easy chair stood near the window, although sitting in it now would not be very easy as it had lost one of its arms and a portion of its seat.

    Sitesh glanced up and saw that bits and pieces of an old-fashioned, hand-pulled fan still hung from the ceiling. It didn’t have a rope, the wooden bar was broken and its main body torn.

    Apart from these objects, the room had a shelf that must once have held rifles, a pipeless hookah, and two ordinary chairs, also with broken arms.

    Anath Babu appeared to be deep in thought. After a while, he said, ‘Can you smell something?’

    ‘Smell what?’

    ‘Incense, oil and burning flesh … all mixed together …’ Sitesh inhaled deeply, but could smell nothing beyond the usual musty smell that came from a room that had been kept shut for a long time.

    So he said, ‘Why, no, I don’t think I can …’

    Anath Babu did not say anything. Then, suddenly, he struck his left hand with his right and exclaimed, ‘God! I know this smell well! There is bound to be a spirit lurking about in this house, though whether or not he’ll make an appearance remains to be seen. Let’s go!’

     Anath Babu decided to spend the following night in Haldhar mansion. On our way back, he said, ‘I won’t go tonight because tomorrow is a moonless night, the best possible time for ghosts and spirits to come out. Besides, I need a few things which I haven’t got with me today. I’ll bring those tomorrow. Today I came only to make a survey.’

    Before they parted company near Biren’s house, Anath lowered his voice and said, ‘Please don’t tell anyone else about my plan. From what I heard today, people here are so superstitious and easily frightened that they might actually try to stop me from going in if they came to know of my intention. And, ‘he added, ‘please don’t mind that I didn’t ask you to join me. One has to be alone, you see, for something like this …’

    Sitesh sat down the next day to write, but could not concentrate. His mind kept going back to the west room in that mansion. God knows what kind of experience awaited Anath Babu. He could not help feeling a little restless and anxious.

    He accompanied Anath Babu in the evening, right up to the gate of the Halder mansion. He was wearing a black high-necked jacket today. From his shoulder hung a flask and, in his hand, he carried the same torch he had used the day before. He took out a couple of small bottles from his pocket before going into the house. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘this one has a special oil, made with my own formula. It is an excellent mosquito repellent. And this one here has carbolic acid in it. If I spread it in and around the room, I’ll be safe from snakes.’

    He put the bottles back in his pocket, raised the torch and touched his head with it. Then he waved Sitesh a final salute and walked in, his heavy boots clicking on the gravel.

    Sitesh could not sleep well that night.

*

    As the dawn broke, Sitesh told Bharadwaj to fill a thermos flask with enough tea for two. When the flask arrived, he left once more for Halder mansion.

    No one was about. Should I call out to Anath Babu, or should I go straight up to the west room? He stood debating, when a voice  said ‘Here—this way!’

    Anath Babu was coming out of the little jingle of wild plants from the eastern side of the house, with a neem twig in his hand. He certainly did not look like a man who might have had an unnatural or horrific experience the night before.

    He grinned broadly as he came closer.

    ‘I had to search for about half an hour before I could find a neem tree. I prefer this to a toothbrush, you see.’ Said Anath.

    Sitesh felt hesitant to ask him about the previous night.

    ‘I brought some tea,’ Sitesh said instead and added, ‘would you like some here, or would you rather go home?’

    ‘Oh, come along. Let’s sit by that fountain.’ He replied.

    Anath Babu took a long sip of his tea and said, ‘Aaah!’ with great relish. Then he turned to Sitesh and said with a twinkle in his eye, ‘You’re dying to know what happened, aren’t you?’

    ‘Yes I mean … yes, a little …’

    ‘All right. I promise to tell all. But let me tell you one thing right away—the whole expedition was highly successful!’

    Anath poured himself a second mug of tea and began his tale:

    ‘It was 5 p.m. when you left me here. I looked around for a bit before going into the house. One has to be careful, you know. There are times when animals and other living beings can cause more harm than ghosts. But I didn’t find anything dangerous.

    Then I went in and looked into the rooms in the ground floor that were open. None had any furniture left. All I could find was some old rubbish in one and a few bats hanging from the ceiling in another. They didn’t budge as I went in, so I came out again without disturbing them.

    I went upstairs at around 6.30 p.m. and began making preparations for the night. I had taken a duster with me. The first thing I did was to dust that easy chair. Heaven knows how long it had lain there.

    The room felt stuffy, so I opened the window. The door to the passage was also left open, just in case Mr Ghost wished to make his entry through it. Then I placed the flask and the torch on the floor and lay down on the easy chair. It was quite uncomfortable but, having spent many a night before under far more weird circumstances, I did not mind.

    The sun had set at 5.30. It grew dark quite soon. And that smell grew stronger. I don’t usually get worked up, but I must admit last might I felt a strange excitement.

    Gradually, the jackals in the distance stopped their chorus, and the crickets fell silent. I cannot tell when I fell asleep.

    I was awoken by a noise. It was the noise of a clock striking midnight. A deep, yet melodious chime came from the passage.

    Now, fully awake, I noticed two other things—first, I was lying quite comfortably in the easy chair. The torn portion wasn’t torn anymore, and someone had tucked in a cushion behind my back. Secondly, a brand new fan hung over my head; a long rope from it went out to the passage and an unseen hand was pulling it gently.

    I was staring at these things and enjoying them thoroughly, is when I realised from somewhere in the moonless night that a full moon had appeared. The room was flooded with bright moonlight. Then the aroma of something totally unexpected hit my nostrils. I turned and found a hookah by my side, the rich smell of the best quality tobacco filling the room.’

    Anath Babu stopped. Then he smiled and said, ‘Quite a pleasant situation, wouldn’t you agree?’

    Sitesh said, ‘Yes, indeed. So you spent the rest of the night pretty comfortably, did you?’

    At this, Anath Babu suddenly grew grave and sunk into a deep silence. Sitesh waited for him to resume speaking, but when he didn’t he turned impatient. ‘Do you mean to say, ‘he asked, ‘that you really didn’t have any reason to feel frightened? You didn’t see a ghost, after all?’

    Anath Babu looked at Sitesh. But there was not even the slightest trace of a smile on his lips. His voice sounded hoarse as he asked, ‘When you went into the room the day before yesterday, did you happen to look carefully at the ceiling?’

    ‘No I don’t think I did. Why?’

    ‘There is something rather special about it. I cannot tell you the rest of my story without showing it to you. Come, let’s go in.’

    They began climbing the dark staircase again. On their way to the first floor, Anath babu said only one thing: ‘I will not have to chase ghosts again, Sitesh Babu. Never. I have finished with them.’

    Sitesh looked at the grandfather clock in the passage. It stood just as it had done two days ago.

    They stopped in front of the west room. ‘Go in,’ said Anath Babu. The door was closed. Sitesh pushed it open and went in. Then his eyes fell on the floor, and a wave of horror swept over him.

    Who was lying on the floor, heavy boots on his feet? And whose laughter was that, loud and raucous, coming from the passage outside, echoing through every corner of the Haldar mansion?

    Drowning Sitesh in it, paralysing his senses his mind …? could it be …?

    He could think no more.

*

    When Sitesh opened his eyes, he found Bharadwaj standing at the foot of his bed, and Bhabatosh Majumdar fanning him furiously. ‘Oh, thank goodness you’ve come round! ‘if Sidhucharan hadn’t seen you go into that house, heaven knows what might have happened. Why on earth did you go there anyway?’

    Sitesh could only mutter faintly, ‘Last night, Anath Babu …’

    Bhabatosh Babu cut him short, ‘Anath Babu! It’s too late now to do anything about him. Obviously, he didn’t believe a word of what I said the other day. Thank God you didn’t go with him to spend the night in that room. You saw what happened to him, didn’t you? Exactly the same thing happened to Haladhar Datta all those years ago. Lying on the floor, cold and stiff, the same look of horror in his eyes, staring at the ceiling.’

    Sitesh thought quietly to myself, ‘No, he’s not lying there cold and stiff. I know what’s become of Anath Babu after his death. I might find him, even tomorrow morning, perhaps, if I bothered to go back. There he would be—wearing a black jacket and heavy boots, coming out of the jungle in the Haldhar mansion, neem twig in his hand grinning from ear to ear.’

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK TALK: A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA–by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    This is the first short story. And the third overall work, featuring Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ It happens to be the first of the 56 Holmes short stories written by Doyle and the first of 38 Sherlock Holmes works illustrated by Sidney Paget (illustrator an artist who specialised on Conan Doyle’s work). The story is notable for introducing the character of Irene Adler, often referred as a romantic interest for Holmes in later derivative works. Conan Doyle ranked “A Scandal in Bohemia” fifth in the list of his twelve favourite Holmes stories.

    “A Scandal in Bohemia” was first published on 25 June 1891 in the July issue of The Strand Magazine, and was the first of the stories collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in 1892.

PLOT

    Dr Watson recounts an adventure that started on 20th March 1888. When, the newly married Watson is paying Holmes a visit. This is when a masked visitor arrives. He introduces himself as Count Kramm, an agent for a wealthy client. Holmes quickly deduces that the visitor is in fact Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein and the hereditary King of Bohemia. Realising Holmes has seen through his guise. The King admits this and tears off his mask.

    It transpires that the King is to get engaged to one Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meiningen, a young Scandinavian princess. However, five years before the current scenario, he had enjoyed a liaison with a “well-known adventuress,” an American opera singer Irene Adler, whilst, she was prima donna of the Imperial Opera of Warsaw. She had since retired, and now lived in London. Fearful … that should the strictly principled family of his fiancée learn of this impropriety, the marriage would be called off. So, he had sought to regain the letters and the photograph of Adler and himself together. Which, he had sent to her during their relationship as a token. The King’s agents had tried to recover the photograph through, forceful means, burglary, stealing her luggage, and even waylaying her. Also, an offer was made to pay her for the photograph and the letters. But she had refused. With Adler threatening to send them to his future in-laws, which the King presumed is intended to prevent him from marrying any other woman. So, he made the incognito visit to Holmes to request for his help in locating and obtaining the photograph.

    The photograph is described to Holmes as a cabinet (5½ by 4 inches) and therefore too bulky for a lady to carry upon her person. As regards expenses, the King said Holmes had a carte blanche and gave him £1,000 (£102,200 today), exclaiming. “I would give one of the provinces of my kingdom to have that photograph!” Holmes asks Dr. Watson to join him at 221B Baker Street at 3 o’clock the following afternoon.

    Next morning, Holmes goes to Adler’s house, disguised as a drunken out-of-work groom. He discovers from the local stable workers that Adler has a gentleman friend, the barrister Godfrey Norton of the Inner Temple, who calls on her at least once a day. On this particular day too, Norton comes to visit Adler, and soon afterwards, takes a cab to the Church of St. Monica in Edgware Road. Minutes later, the lady herself gets into her landau, bound for the same place. Holmes follows them in a cab and enters the church, where he is unexpectedly asked to be a witness to Norton and Adler’s wedding. Curiously, they go their separate ways after the ceremony.

    Meanwhile, Watson is waiting for Sherlock to arrive, and when Sherlock Holmes, finally does deliver himself back at Baker Street, he starts laughing. Watson is confused and asks what is so funny? Sherlock then recounts his tale and comments. He thought the situation and position he was in at the wedding was amusing. He also asks whether or not Watson is willing to participate in a scheme to figure out where the picture is hidden in Adler’s house. Watson agrees, and Holmes changes into another disguise as a clergyman. The duo, depart Baker Street for Adler’s house.

    When Holmes and Watson arrive, a group of jobless men meander throughout the street. When Adler’s coach pulls up, Sherlock Holmes enacts his plan. A fight breaks out between the men on the street over who gets to help Adler. Holmes rushes into the fight to protect Adler, and is seemingly struck and injured. Adler takes him into her sitting room, where Holmes motions for her to have the window opened. As Holmes lifts his hand, Watson recognizes a pre-arranged signal and tosses in a plumber’s smoke rocket. While smoke billows out of the building, Watson shouts “FIRE!” and the cry is echoed up and down the street.

    Holmes slips out of Adler’s house and tells Watson what he saw. As Holmes expected, Adler rushes to get her most precious possession at the cry of “fire”—the photograph of herself and the King. Holmes was able to see that the picture was kept in a recess behind a sliding panel just above the right bell pull. He was unable to steal it at that moment, however because the coachman was watching him. He explains all of this to Watson before being bid ‘good-night’ by a familiar-sounding youth. Who, promptly manages to get lost in the crowd.

    The following morning, Holmes, explains his findings to the King. When, Holmes, Watson, and the King arrive at Adler’s house at 8 am. When, her elderly maidservant sardonically informs them that she has left the country by the 5.15 train from Charing Cross railway station. Holmes quickly goes to the photograph’s hiding spot, finding a photo of Irene Adler in an evening dress and a letter dated midnight addressed to him. In the letter, Adler tells Holmes. He did very well in finding the photograph and taking her in with his disguises. She also reveals that she posed as the youth who bid Holmes ‘good-night.’ Adler has left England with Norton, “a better man” than the King, adding she will not compromise the King, despite being “cruelly wronged” by him. She had kept the photo only to protect herself from any further action he might take.

    The King exclaims how amazing Adler is (“Would she not have made an admirable queen? Is it not a pity she was not on my level?”) Holmes replies Miss Adler is indeed on a much different level from the King (by which he means higher – an implication lost on the King). Thanking Holmes effusively, the King offers a valuable emerald ring from his finger as further reward. Holmes says there is something he values even more highly – the photograph of Adler. Ignoring the handshake proffered by the King, Holmes leaves. He keeps the photograph as a reminder of her cleverness, and of being beaten by a woman’s wit.

    Watson has already called her “the late Irene Adler,” confirming her death sometime in the intervening three years (between the story’s setting and the publication of “A Scandal in Bohemia”). Watson also tells that, since their meeting, Holmes always refers to her by the honorable title of “the woman”.

    The story is high on humour and even wit, but low on plot intensity. So, before I close, let me take you through this interesting and humorous conversation that happens between Holmes and Dr Watson on page 9 and 10 of the story:  

    “Quite so,” he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into the armchair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.” *(States Holmes)

    “Frequently” *(Replies Watson)

    “How often?” *(asks Holmes)

    “Well some hundreds of times.” *(Replies Watson)

    “Then how many are there?” *(Questions Holmes)

    “How many! I don’t know.” *(says Dr Watson)

    “Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed …….” *(says Holmes)

    *Not part of the text in the book.

*****

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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