A Winter Night by Munshi Premchand
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With a heavy heart, Halku walked towards his wife and said, “The moneylender has come. Get me the money I had kept with you, will give it to him. At least we will live in peace.”
Munni was sweeping the floor, she turned and replied, “We have just three rupees. JUST THREE RUPEES.” Her anger was evident in her tone, “We have kept it to buy a blanket for the upcoming winters. How will we survive these brutal wintry nights, if we give our savings to him? Tell him, we will pay him when we sell our crop. We don’t have anything for him right now!”
Halku stood there not knowing what to do. He tried to put his thoughts in order, so as to take a decision.
Winter season was at its peak and without a blanket there was no way he could sleep out in the open, guarding his fields all through the night. But he knew that refusing the money monger would be even worse. He thought, it was better to die in the open field under the dark sky than listening to the abuses being hurled at him. Clear in his mind now, he dragged his hefty self towards Munni and with a fake smile said, “Come on, Munni. Give it to me. At least it will take the moneylender off my neck. I will think of something and get the blanket.”
But Munni was in no mood to listen to his fake promises. She moved away from him and said, “Am fed up of you and your assurances. Tell me, what you are going to do about the blanket. Who will give it to you for free? Who knows, how fierce it’s gonna be for us? We survived the last time, but this time it will kill us.” She paused for a second, and continued, “Why don’t you leave farming? Are we going to live like this forever? We work our asses out to grow these bloody crops but what happens when the time for harvest comes? These morons line up outside our house and take away all that we have. For God’s sake, do something else. Earn some money and do whatever you want to of it. I am not going to give even a damn penny to them.”