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Chapter 21: Personality: The Carbon Cop-out

But this mango tree was just by the side of this Mr. Nigam’s compound, outside his compound, and he was not aware that somebody was sitting in the tree. It was getting a little dark, the sun was almost gone, and I saw him dragging his wife along. He pushed the wife into the well - there was a well in his garden - and then he started shouting, “My wife has fallen into the well!”

Neighbors gathered. I also came down, but I thought it better first to inquire of my father, “Do I have to get involved in this or not? - because I am the only witness that this man pushed his wife.”

My father said, “In the first place, what were you doing there?”

I said, “I was just picking a few mangoes. Even if it is a crime, it is not such a crime that a man can throw his wife down a well and I should remain silent. If there is some punishment for it, I am ready. Just two mangoes I have taken. If somebody wants the price, you give the price, but just suggest to me what I am supposed to do. Should I speak? - because that man is trying to prove that his wife fell.”

And his wife died - the well was very deep. My city is such that half the city is on top of a hill, and the other half is in the valley. Cycling is very difficult in my city. You can come down very easily, but going up you have to walk with your bicycle, you cannot go on the cycle. Cycle rickshaws are not yet possible because of this situation. So half is on top of the hill, and it is a very plain hill - then suddenly the slope.

The middle city is on the slope, and the other half, the main city, is in the valley - the main market and everything. So in the valley wells are very easy to make. You can dig a well alone, there is not much of a problem: six, eight feet, that’s enough, and you reach the water because the river is just by the side. But on the top, you have to go down at least sixty feet.

This Mr. Nigam used to live on the top, so the well was very deep, sixty feet deep, and then the water was very deep.

By the time people gathered, his wife had died. Perhaps she died before she reached the water. Sixty feet falling in the well. She must have hit something. The well was not very big, so she must have hit the sides, because when her body was brought up, it was bleeding from many places. Her head and body were bruised and bloody, so she must have died on the way down - or perhaps the little bit of life that remained was finished when she reached the water.

Now this man, when on the first day he came to teach. The first thing is the attendance; so everybody who is present says, “Yes, sir,” or “Present, sir,” and for whoever is not present, nobody speaks, so he is marked not present. I said, “Yes, mister.”

He looked at me and he said, “Don’t you hear everybody saying ‘Yes, sir’? - and you say ‘Yes, mister.’ Don’t you have any respect for a teacher?”

I said, “I have respect for people who are respectable. I know you perfectly well. The day your wife was pushed into the well, I was sitting in the mango tree in front of your house. I can still open up the case. And you want me to call you sir?

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