‘Ramzan ke poore tees roze ke baad id aayi hai, …kheto me ajeeb raunaq hai,aasman par ajeeb lalima hai’Â - Eidgaah
I never thought Hindi writers are worth my time right from Hardy Boys and Tintin to novels from Wilbur Smith, Fredrick Forsyth, Ayn Rand. Any one of them can easily tilt the balance in their favor against entire Hindi Literature. Nor I ever thought that a book which I borrowed from my chowkidar will change my age old opinion about Hindi literature.
If you are out to buy hindi novels you will be surprised at the price difference it offers in comparison to its English counterpart. A very old book worth rupees fifteen, binded in a newspaper sheet with the index page missing and the rest of the pages barely together also reflects the plight of hindi literature in present age.
Eidgah one of the most celebrated novels from Munshi Premchand.
I think Munshi Premchand was arguably the greatest story writer in the Hindi language. The book starts with the simplest of introduction of the writer it opens a window about Premchand who he started writing in the Urdu script under the pen name Nawab Rai but later shifted to the Devnagari script to be accessible to a wider audience. Later he self-translated some of his earlier works so that they were widely accessible. It is the story of Hamid, a four year old poor orphan boy, and his day on Eid. The story is a typical Premchand style, something which was a hallmark of his writing. He used to describe human conditions and emotions in such a real and heart touching way that readers would feel that they are a part of the event being described.
Do believe those above lines... Eidgah is no different.
It is creditable on the part of Premchand the way he has so closely described the nuances in the story. He has described things from the eyes of a four year old Muslim child and particularly as he himself would not have lived that phase in his own life. Reading Eidgah today brings fond memories of my own childhood and the importance that was attached to the Eidi. His narration of the children taking out the Eidi from their pockets and counting it again and again and comparing with each other of how much Eidi the other has received takes the things as close as they could be! We used to wait for this day so that they could get the Eidi and plan it out even months ahead what they would buy with it.
Also his description of the fasting by the children where he mentions that some may have kept only one fast and that too only to the noon shows his extremely close proximity to what these things meant. When we were small kids and would really want to fast in Ramzan while watching the elders doing that we would be allowed in our own kid fasts. Ammi would playfully say to keep what they would call ‘ek gaal ka roza‘ meaning you eat only from one side of the mouth. Or then they would say to keep half roza the same what Premchand describes. I can see my childhood and the feelings which were long forgotten.
Premchand also shows his close knowledge of the happenings of a typical household on the Eid morning. Whether it be in people running for getting the sugar for the sewain or we children waiting impatiently for it to be ready.
But ultimately the story is about the bonding between Hamid and Ameena (the orphaned kid and his grandmother). Ameena’s concern for Hamid when he is going to the Eidgah without his father and Hamid’s struggle with his own little self to overcome the attraction of the sweets, the games and the toys while all the other kids are not only enjoying those but even showing it off to Hamid in their kid rivalry depicts this. The four year Hamid successfully overcomes all of the temptation for games, sweets and toys and saves his three paise to stop at a hardware shop and buy a pair of tongs for his Dadijaan(grand mother).
Finally when he brings it home and gives the tongs to his grandmother she scolds him in a typical way as he could not find any better thing to buy from his Eidi. When he describes that he bought it for her as that would save her fingers from getting burnt while she is making roti’s she breaks down in tear along with me. The way Premchand describes this, touches the elements in one’s soul, you just cant stop those tears flooding your eyes.
Simplicty and originality at its best. A masterpiece from a magician named Munshi PremChand.
By the way Eid Mubarak to you all