Idgah is a Hindustani story written by the Indian author Munshi Premchand. Idgah tells the story of a four-year-old orphan named Hamid who lives with his grandmother Amina. Hamid, the protagonist of the story, has recently lost his parents; however his grandmother tells him that his father has left to earn money, and that his mother has gone to Allah to fetch lovely gifts for him. This fills Hamid with hope, and despite Amina's worry surrounding their poverty and her grandson's well-being, Hamid is a happy and positive child.

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This banner text can have markup. Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. How wonderful and beautiful is the morning of Eid! The trees look greener, the field more festive, the sky has a lovely pink glow. Look at the sun! It comes up brighter and more dazzling than before to wish the world a very happy Eid.

The village is agog with excitement. Everyone is up early to go to the Eidgah mosque. One finds a button missing from his shirt and is hurrying to his neighbour's house for thread and needle.

Another finds that the leather of his shoes has become hard and is running to the oil-press for oil to grease it. They are dumping fodder before their oxen because by the time they get back from the Eidgah it may be late afternoon. It is a good three miles from the village.

There will also be hundreds of people to greet and chat with; they would certainly not be finished before midday. The boys are more excited than the others.

Some of them kept only one fast— and that only till noon. Some didn't even do that. But no one can deny them the joy of going to the Eidgah. Fasting is for the grown-ups and the aged. For the boys it is only the day of Eid. They have been talking about it all the time. At long last the day has come. And now they are impatient with people for not hurrying up. They have no concern with things that have to be done. They are not bothered whether or not there is enough milk and sugar for the vermicelli pudding.

All they want is to eat the pudding. They have no idea why Abbajan is out of breath running to the house of Chaudhri Karim Ali. They don't know that if the Chaudhri were to change his mind he could turn the festive day of Eid into a day of mourning.

Their pockets bulge with coins like the stomach of the pot-bellied Kubera, the Hindu God of Wealth. They are forever taking the treasure out of their pockets, counting and recounting it before putting it back. Mahmood counts "One, two, ten, twelve"— he has twelve pice. Mohsin has "One, two, three, eight, nine, fifteen" pice. Out of this countless hoard they will buy countless things: toys, sweets, paper-pipes, rubber balls— and much else. The happiest of the boys is Hamid.

He is only four; poorly dressed, thin and famished-looking. His father died last year of cholera. Then his mother wasted away and, without anyone finding out what had ailed her she also died.

Now Hamid sleeps in Granny Ameena's lap and is as happy as a lark. She tells him that his father has gone to earn money and will return with sack loads of silver. And that his mother has gone to Allah to get lovely gifts for him.

This makes Hamid very happy. It is great to live on hope; for a child there is nothing like hope. A child's imagination can turn a mustard seed into a mountain. Hamid has no shoes on his feet; the cap on his head is soiled and tattered; its gold thread has turned black. Nevertheless Hamid is happy. He knows that when his father comes back with sacks full of silver and his mother with gifts from Allah he will be able to fulfil all his heart's desires. Then he will have more than Mahmood, Mohsin, Noorey and Sammi.

In her hovel the unfortunate Ameena sheds bitter tears. It is Eid and she does not have even a handful of grain. Only if her Abid were there, it would have been a different kind of Eid! I will be the first to get back. Don't worry! Other boys are going out with their fathers.

She is the only 'father' Hamid has. How can she let him go to the fair all by himself? What if he gets lost in the crowd? No, she must not lose her precious little soul! How can he walk three miles? He doesn't even have a pair of shoes. He will get blisters on his feet. If she went along with him she could pick him up now and then. But then who would be there to cook the vermicelli?

If only she had the money she could have bought the ingredients on the way back and quickly made the pudding. In the village it would take her many hours to get everything. The only way out was to ask someone for them. The villagers leave in one party. With the boys is Hamid. They run on ahead of the elders and wait for them under a tree. Why do the oldies drag their feet? And Hamid is like one with wings on his feet.

How could anyone think he would get tired? They reach the suburbs of the town. On both sides of the road are mansions of the rich enclosed all around by thick, high walls. In the gardens mango and leechee trees are laden with fruit.

A boy hurls a stone at a mango tree. The gardener rushes out screaming abuses at them. By then the boys are furlongs out of his reach and roaring with laughter. What a silly ass they make of the gardener!

Then come big buildings: the law courts, the college and the club. How many boys would there be in this big college? No sir, they are not all boys! Some are grown-up men. They sport enormous moustaches. What are such grown-up men going on studying for? How long will they go on doing so? What will they do with all their knowledge? There are only two or three grown-up boys in Hamid's school.

Absolute duds they are too! They get a thrashing every day because they do not work at all. These college fellows must be the same type— why else should they be there! And the Masonic Lodge. They perform magic there. It is rumoured that they make human skulls move about and do other kinds of weird things.

No wonder they don't let in outsiders! And the white folk play games in the evenings. Grown-up men, men with moustaches and beards playing games! And not only they, but even their Memsahibs! That's the honest truth!

You give my Granny that something they call a racket; she wouldn't know how to hold it. And if she tried to wave it about she would collapse.


Idgah (short story)

As I look back on my school days, I recall the beautiful story by Munshi Premchand — Idgah — that we had in our Hindi text book. We had even enacted a play on the story. At that time, I had read it as any other story and was even a part of the play — without understanding its layers of wisdom. And this time my eyes welled. I could relate with the emotions. Here was a four-year-old boy, who saw his friends buying sweets and toys for themselves on Eid — as a child he too wanted to.


Remembering Premchand's Idgah: Hamid's gift for Eid

This banner text can have markup. Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. How wonderful and beautiful is the morning of Eid! The trees look greener, the field more festive, the sky has a lovely pink glow.

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