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‘A Special Experience’ is a short story written by Prem Chand. Revolving around a time pre- independence, the story talks about two patriotic families and their tireless fight for freedom, come what may. The struggles the wife in particular had to go through is starkly described in this text.
About the Author:
Prem Chand (1880-1936) the famous author was born as Dhanpat Rai Srivastava. He was a renowned novelist who predominantly wrote in Hindi and Urdu and was vehemently against casteism. Notable works of his include The Tale of Two Oxen, The Chess Players and Rich Daughter-In-Law.
The theme of this short story is patriotism. Against suppression from British and their own family, the wife of the imprisoned man fights for freedom and justice. She refused to be cowed down by the oppression. So was the family who gave her shelter.
The story begins with the protagonist’s husband being imprisoned for the smallest of crimes- offering sherbet and pan to political agitators. She watches her husband go with a smile on his face. Feeling empowered and rebellious herself, she buys sweets and serves freedom fighters.
The next day, she sends letters to her father and father-in-law, both of whom were well placed, seeking help. They turned their back on her, offering excuses for their inability to offer her any assistance. Disappointed, she tears and throws the letter away, vowing to never repeat this ever again.
At this point of the story, a new character, Gyan Babu, is introduced. He is revealed to be a learned school teacher who had come along with his wife to help her. They urge her to pack her belongings to come stay with them until her husband is released. She accepts.
Eights days passed. Two CID men, who had kept close watch on Gyan Babu’s house had reported of her stay to that school’s principal, ensuing a quarrel. While his wife is furious, Gyan Babu fears for his job. Despite this, his wife refuses to let him turn her out of their house. In the end, Gyan Babu is seen to have handed in his resignation himself, choosing to let the woman stay with them instead.
This is a story that reveals the turbulent times that preceded independence for common people. It also shows the hard decisions they have to take to preserve their sanity. In times when her own relatives couldn’t care less about her plight, people with humanity still left are portrayed in this short story, people who were willing to risk themselves to do what is right.