Category Archives: fiction

BOOK TALK: THE BET by Anton Chekov

Copyright@shravancharitymission

THE BET

by Anton Chekov

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

    Anton Chekov, was a Russian playwright and a short-story writer. He was considered to be the greatest, among the writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics. His best short stories are held in high esteem by many renowned writers and even critics. Chekov all his life practiced as a medical doctor along with his illustrious literary career. ‘Medicine is my lawful wife,’ he once said, ‘and literature is my mistress.’

    ‘The Bet’ is an 1889 short story by him about a banker and a young lawyer who enter into a bet. To, decide what is better death penalty or life in prison.

    The story opens with the banker reminiscing the occasion, of the bet some fifteen years ago. The guests at that party that he was hosting that day fell into a discussion of capital punishment. The banker argued that capital punishment is more humane than life imprisonment. Where, the young lawyer disagreed. Insisting he would choose, life in prison rather than death. So, to, arrive at a conclusion. They agree to a bet of some two million roubles. Thinking the lawyer won’t be able to spend fifteen years in solitary confinement. Thus the bet was struck. When the lawyer cast’s himself into isolation, for fifteen years.

    The man spends his time in confinement reading books, writing, playing piano, studying, drinking wine and educating himself. One finds him growing intellectually throughout the story. We see various phases in his term of imprisonment over the years. At first, the lawyer suffers from serious loneliness and depression. But soon he begins vigorous studies. About languages and other related subjects. Then, he ventures into a mix of science, literature, philosophy and some other random subjects. Further, he ends up reading some six hundred volumes in the course of four years. Then the Gospel followed by theology and histories of religion. In the final two years, the imprisoned lawyer reads immensely subjects of chemistry, medicine and philosophy and at times works of Byron or Shakespeare.

     In the meantime the banker’s fortune declines. He all of a sudden realises that if he loses the bet, paying off the debt will leave him bankrupt.

    So, the day before, the fifteen-year period concludes. The banker resolves to kill the lawyer so that he doesn’t have to pay him the money. And on his way to do so, the banker finds a note written by the lawyer. The note only declares that during the time of his confinement. He has learned to despise material goods as fleeting things and he believes that knowledge is worth more than money. Therefore, he elects to renounce the reward of the bet. The banker is moved and shocked to his bones after reading the note. He kisses the strange man on the head and leaves the lodge weeping, relieved not to have to kill anyone. The prison warden later reports, that the lawyer has left the guest house. Thus losing the bet but proving his point that solitary confinement is more humane than death punishment as it gives a chance to a person (the lawyer in this story) to develop himself. The lawyer also unwittingly saves his own life by writing the note.

 CHARACTERS

    The lawyer is seen to be persistent, intelligent and self motivating. He doesn’t break down in the 15 years of imprisonment as the banker had foretold. He is intelligent by the virtue of reading so many books, which reflects on his eagerness to associate with other men, rather than claiming the final prize. He starts as a young impatient person, ready to spend 15 of his best years of life for 2 million roubles. His character of being a person with no interest in materialistic luxury is reflected when he renounces the 2 million and settles with just having proved his point.

    Whereas, the banker likes to be in a position of authority. Where, he likes to wield power over others. Especially those, who happen to disagree with him. The character changes drastically from the beginning of the story when he seems to be very free handed as he easily bets to pay two million. But later, lack of wealth drives him to dishonesty and a plan for murder. This also signifies the weak character of the banker. He is very attached to the materialistic luxuries of life and values human life less than his luxuries. So he plans to kill the lawyer for money and nothing but money changes his mind.

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 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)

*****

 

 

 

 

Short story: ‘MORAL DILEMMA’ … science fiction

Copyright@shravancharitymission

    Inter galactic expansion had followed the development of humungous hyperspace cruisers and precision drives that had enabled man to colonize far flung frontiers of space. However, these giant cruisers were unsuitable for the short haul emergency calls. Starship cruisers did not use conventional rocket fuel but nuclear power and carried limited amount of bulky liquid fuel. For short emergency trips small space ships were designed made of light metal and plastics to be run on liquid fuel to be spared by cruisers that housed these ships. One drawback was that these ships carried only that amount of fuel which was enough for their mission, not an ounce less or an ounce more. Extra weight would jeopardize their mission at the cost of necessary payload.

    The small ship ‘Twinkle’ was speeding along into the dark bowels of space carrying essential medical supplies on which lives of several colonists depended. Captain Schmidt did a bit of isometrics and thought about a cup of coffee from the vacuum dispenser. Suddenly the corner of his eye caught the dial of the fuel gauge. It was showing a little above zero. Fuel consumption was not normal. It was but a natural corollary for the captain to divine that some extra unauthorized and unexplained weight was on board. He looked at the closet containing the only empty unused space. The heat gradient indicated the presence of a human being.

     ‘Come out’ gently intoned Capt Schmidt.

    After a pause of several seconds a coy, diffident and a spry girl appeared and gently walked to the captain’s desk.

     ‘Who are you and what are you doing here?’ asked the captain softly, in order, not to frighten the child, who was barely 12 years old.

    ‘I am Zoya from the Southern Nebula. I was stealing a ride to meet my parents who are stranded in AlphaZ2.’ She answered confidently despite her distraught demeanour.

    The captain stared in disbelief. ‘But how in the devil did you get into the ship.’

    ‘It was not difficult to enter unnoticed. People thought I had come to bid farewell to my folks. Later on I stumbled on to this small cabin. You are going to fine me or give me some sort of punishment?’ The girl asked apprehensively.

    ‘My dear girl you have put me into a great problem. The rules are very strict. Unauthorized persons, objects and any living organism are to be thrown out or jettisoned.’ He said almost in a whisper, not trying to panic the girl.

    ‘You mean you will leave me in space to die for something I am not responsible.’ The girl was now almost in tears.

     ‘Please try and understand- the mission is important but your body mass has increased the fuel consumption jeopardizing the mission. The colonists who are awaiting life-saving drugs will also die.’ The captain said as if pronouncing a death verdict. Never in the galactic frontiers was such a situation encountered by anyone before.

    The captain put the ship into auto-mode and fine tuned the astral bearings of the planet the ship was headed for.

    ‘My child you are not going to die’ said the captain happily, as if solving an intricate puzzle.

    ‘Everything is on auto mode. You will reach the target planet. Only don’t answer any calls or messages which may flash on the console.’

    Having, said that the captain slowly walked out of the air lock and into the evacuation tunnel.

    This story is based on one of the finest SCI-FICTION stories of America and is more than 60 years old. Probably it was published in 1963. When, I had read it. The language sequence of, the plot are entirely mine and not copied from anywhere. I am happy that I have been able to dig out the scientific space diction without much of a difficulty. The point is whether the captain was morally justified in leaving the ship in the hands of a child, thereby endangering the lives of so many. Well there are so many angles to this dilemma. (As narrated by Ajit Kumar Tripathi)

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)

*****