Ratilal Sheth’s mother had expired. Now Ratilal Sheth was a big grain dealer of Khijadia. Practically all the fields of the nearby fifty villages were mortgaged to him so all the yield belonged to him. All the bullock carts coming to the Grain Market to sell their produce had to pay a commission which was directly deposited into his account.

So when such a powerful person lost his mother, people from all the nearby villages, came to Khijadia, to mourn her death. Some came by bullock cart, some others on bicycles. Some others even walked down. Those who had come by bullock carts or on bicycles, would leave them on the village outskirts, cover their heads with a white scarf and then pass through the Bazaar, crying loudly to reach Ratilal Sheth’s residence, where they would be asked to calm down by Sheth himself. This sort of mourning would last for a week or ten days. The more well known the family, the longer the mourning period!

The hot April sun was rising slowly, shooting its arrow like rays. At that time, some ten to twelve youths from a neighboring village, arrived on the outskirts of Khijadia on their bicycles, riding over dusty roads. They had come to mourn the death of Ratilal Sheth’s mother. The hot April sun and the dusty road had both taken their toll. …..they were soaking wet with perspiration and fully covered with dust.

Fortunately, they found a kiosk, serving free drinking water, set up under the shade of a huge tree…….. by Ratilal Sheth. After downing a couple of glasses of water to quench their thirst and feeling refreshed, when some of them were about to ask the woman who had served them water, if she would guard their bicycles, she burst out:”When you came, did you notice any clouds of dust behind you?’

“No, why? Is there anything?”

“What else? These poor boys want to go to Amreli to appear for their S.S.C. exams and the State Transport bus has not yet come….it is long overdue….’

In those days, not every town had a center where one could appear for the S.S.C. (School Finals) examination. Normally, only the District Headquarters would have it. So the students from Khijadia had to go to Amreli to appear for their exams. The bus, which normally was quite punctual, had not yet arrived to-day. A group of boys, standing under the shade of another tree, just a little distance away from the kiosk, was checking the time on their borrowed wrist watches, and calculating mentally the time left to reach the center, anxiety clearly writ large on their faces.

Here, the youths were considering their business relations with Ratilal Sheth, and looking at the pitiable condition of the boys, before deciding anything. It was customary, not to mourn any death after the sun had reached its zenith. On the other hand they were unsure about the reply they would give their elders.

Ultimately, they arrived at a decision. “Come, let us reach these boys to Amreli in time….if we fail, they will lose a whole year…..Ratilal Sheth’s mother is not going to return….we will come again to-morrow to mourn her death……but if these boys do not appear for their exams to-day, an entire year will be lost,’

They all mounted their bicycles just as they had come and called out to the boys” Come quickly boys and sit on the carriers, we will reach you to Amreli where your center is located…….how much time is left for your exam to begin?”

“About half an hour”

“Hurry up then….”

The boys occupied their seats…….Amreli was some fifteen kilometres away. The unlettered youths quickly calculated in their minds how fast they need to hit the pedal. Luckily the entire stretch of road up to Amreli was paved so no difficulty was envisaged. The bicycles shot off like arrows.

Just as the bicycles were entering the compound of the school at Amreli……..the bell tolled!

The boys ran……exam gear in hand…..happy to have made it.

The youths, heaving a sense of satisfaction, at having achieved it.

Returning from Amreli, the youths had already decided to come to Khijadia the following day to mourn the death of Ratilal Sheth’s mother….giving Khijadia a bypass now. They could not enter the village to-day.

But when they reached the outskirts of Khijadia, no body noticed Ratilal Sheth standing in the shadow of the tree along with the woman minding the kiosk.As the bicycles neared, Ratilal Sheth waved. This was totally unexpected. The youths were all dumbfounded. They stopped near Ratilal Sheth but completely forgot to mourn his mother’s death then.

Ratilal Sheth said:” Come, now you cannot go away without having lunch with me.”


“I Know, I Know, that all of you have come to mourn my mother’s death…..but now no more crying……your condolences have reached me. Every year, during S.S.C. exams, I used to arrange for a bullock cart for the boys of our village to ferry them to Amreli but this year, due to my mother’s death, lost sight of it. Fortunately, you have saved the situation for me. I would not have known about it, had this woman minding the kiosk, not informed me. Now I will arrange for it from to-morrow for the duration of the exam……, bear in mind that you do not cry when you pass through the bazaar’.

“Our parents/elders will be angry with us….”

“I will talk to them when I come there.

On early afternoon that day, when Ratilal Sheth was leading these youths, white scarves across their shoulders, walking quietly through the bazaar… looked as if a group of monks was passing through it!

That bullock cart ride during exams, started by Ratilal Sheth, who had hardly studied up to the fourth standard, was very famous then. There are still many people around, who had availed of this facility, to appear for their S.S.C. exams at Amreli! They happily recall and narrate the above incident to their children, when they go to drop them to their exam centers!



Corporal Punishment…a Joke

The other day, my childhood friend came visiting. We both are in our late eighties now.

He looked pretty upset. Upon inquiring, he showed me a newspaper article with the following headline:

“Teacher fined Rs. 50000 for slapping a student’

“But then why are you so upset?”

He looked at me in total disbelief! “How can you be so naive? Have you ever calculated that at this rate, to-day you would be owning a few bungalows, a couple of Mercedes, a Farmhouse…and…and a private plane to boot!”

“Right you are”, said I, caressing my cheek, trying to soothe the imaginary pain caused by the slap!

But the corporal punishment was a part and parcel of our student life. At times we did not even know why we were being punished!

A German Joke

Ich hatte im Schwesternunterricht ueber die Entzuendung gesprochen; auch ueber die allergische Entzuendung.

In der Abschlussarbeit las ich dann bei einem Pruefling:”Die allergische Entzuendung wird hervorgerufen durch Primeln, Erdbeeren, Frauen- und Maennerhaare sowie andere Genussmittel….” Dr. E. B.


(1) Wonder which material DESIRE is made of!

it flails, it dies, and yet…..

is reborn every day!

(2) Surrendered my life to someone

for the reason that,

should death come,

I can say that…..

I am someone else’s property!



(1) Children who have been rebuked by their father

Students who have been punished by their teacher

……..and Gold that has come under the goldsmith’s hammer are,

all…….Ornament Material!!!

(2) First time you have come in my dream,

now I understand,how did I get……

such sound sleep!