Wahaba fed his oxen very early after Fajr prayers and, as usual, had his morning salty tea in a state of hurry. His lengthy sips were audible from some good distance and there was a strange worry on his face contrary to his calm visage. Before his wife could enquire about this unusual state of affairs, he audaciously said to her, ” Fazee, today I will return home late, send two extra bundles of green grass for the oxen and a bucket full of bran at lunch time. Ask Gula (his only son) to attend fields as early as possible, Zameendar sahab is visiting the farm lands today”.
With this he lifted his plough on his shoulders, drove his oxen with his stick and left for the fields.
The sun was unpleasantly warm; both the oxen were sizzling and the sweat was trickling from Wahaba’s face and naked legs. The scorching heat had darkened his complexion and his unwashed dry curly hair was enough to narrate his plight. His wife came with a basket on her head, two bundles of green grass under her left arm and said to him, ” Stop the oxen and have meals”.
Wahaba stopped and put the fodder before his tired oxen and called out his neighboring peasants to have meals. When he had hardly taken a few morsels of rice, the sight of a bullock cart intimated him about the arrival of Zameendar sahab. Wahaba left his meals midway and proceeded to welcome the land lord.
The arrogant Zameendar sahab didn’t pay any heed to Wahaba hand-folded wish as he would consider it against his status to reply a peasant’s salutation. He pompously admonished all the peasants to work harder in order to get a bumper crop this season. All the peasants kept their heads bowed and didn’t gather the courage to utter a single word but just kept their heads nodding in anticipation.
Some two months later, when Wahaba visited the fields to find if the crops had ripened or not, he scratched the yellow-green cover of a cob and broke it from the plant. As he was about to leave the fields, a loud voice asked him to stop. Soil slipped down his feet and to his utter surprise it was the Kotwaal sahab. “Why are you stealing the fields”? Kotwaal sahab asked angrily.”My Lord! I was just checking if the crop was ready to reap or not”. Before he could say anything more, the cruel Kotwaal whipped him blindly and left him bleeding from head to toes. Finally, he brought Wahaba hand-cuffed to the Zameendar sahab who sent him to rigorous imprisonment of ten years for breaking a cob.
—The writer is a teacher and can be reached at: email@example.com