We were forced to read this shite at School. One Hindi speaking boy, named Gupta, the son of a prosperous Tailor, put up his hand- 'Sir, this story is exposing bankruptcy of Progressive Writers Association aesthetic. It is allegory'.
Mr. Yadav beat the boy savagely but his eyes remained fixed mournfully upon me. There were others in the class- boys named Bannerjee and Chatterjee and Mukherjee- I too was accorded an honorific jee, becoming Iyerjee- whom Yadav had beaten, but not savagely and towards no great civilizational end.
But I alone had immediately got in my Dad to bribe Mr. Yadav, not with the whiskey he was angling for, but 'tuition'. This was his undoing. Say what you like about South Indian Brahmins but the paltry miserabilism of the cow belt can't intimidate us. Poor Mr. Yadav ended up not just teaching me some Hindi but getting me through my exams at far lower cost to Dad's wallet than would otherwise have been feasible. This was because I had just the one essay which I could tailor to answer any question. The other boys also had just the one model essay but their essays were well written in shuddh Hindi and included quotations from Manusmriti and Tulsi Das. Mine featured a mentally retarded young orphan, taken in by his maternal Uncle, whose one goal in life was to pass the I.C.S.E Hindi exam. On my mother's death-bed, Mamaji had sworn that he would make this dream come true for me. Sadly, this meant his daughter was forced into prostitution- that too on her wedding day (this was the denouement of my essay titled 'A marriage I recently attended')- just so I could pay the exam fees. However (vide my essay on 'role of Youth in National Reconstruction') his sons too were forced to do coolie-work and die of exhaustion. Indeed, the final conflagration ( 'Diwali- festival of lights') in which my now crazy Aunty set herself on fire and went running around the tiny room we all occupied was not lacking in joie de vivre.
Ironically, workers at Premchand’s own press in Benares were inspired to strike work against non-payment of wages by this film.
Didn't stop the great man becoming the first President of the P.W.A. Sickness, not shame, led to his death a short while later.