Table of Contents
The story by Munshi Premchand revolves around the character of a little boy, Hamid, whose selflessness reverberates the holy and charming day of Eid. The story celebrates kindness and selfishness as important themes.
The first section starts with the wonderful morning of Eid. The air had a festive look to it with greener trees and ecstatic joys all around. The village was filled with excitement. The whole village had risen early to go to Eidgah. However it was the boys of the village were the most excited. They were taking their treasure out of their pockets, counting and recounting it before putting it back.
The boys were very impatient as they wanted to go to the town quickly and buy different things out of the money they had saved. Mahmood counted 12 coins, Mohsin counted 15 coins but Hamid, who was the happiest of the lot, had no coins to count. Hamid was four years old and lived with his grandmother after the death of his father, from cholera and followed by his mothers demise.
Hamid had no shoes on his feet; the cap on his head was soiled and tattered. Hamid’s grandmother could never bring it to herself to tell her grandson that his parents were dead; so Hamid always believed that his father and mother will be back with lots of presents and then he would have more than my Mahmood and Mohsin and other children.
Despite the poor conditions in which they were suffering how much was happy as a lark and he wanted to go to the town with the other children. His grandmother, who did not even have a handful of grains, did not want to send Hamid with the children as they were going out with the fathers; but she let him go as Hamid wanted to have fun and enjoy Eid as much as he could. So Hamid left with the other boys for the town to celebrate Eid and buy goodies.
In the second section the crowd flocked towards the town. Some people were on tongas and ekkas, some in motorcars – all wearing perfume; all bursting with excitement. The children were most excited as they couldn’t control their glee of the goodies they were going to buy. They entered the town and stood and gaped at whatever caught their eyes till finally the Eidgah was visible to them. They bowed to it and after the morning prayers were over, men hugged each other.
The boys first rode on the merry-go-round for 1 ruppee twenty five paisa. But Hamid did not parktake in this. All he had were three paisas. He couldn’t part with a third of his treasure for a few miserable rounds! The children then drifted to the toy stalls filled with toy soldiers, milkmaids and other such toys. Every boy apart from Hamid bought a toy of some sort for two paisas each.
But Hamid thought that spending two paisas out of his three paisas for a toy, which if dropped out of his hands would be smashed to bits. If a drop of water fell on them, the colour would run, was a waste. Though he wished to hold a toy in his hands and enjoy that feeling but he remained quiet. They moved on to the sweet vendors and even there also, Hamid did not take part in buying and eating the sweets and snacks.
After the sweet shop’s game the jewelry shops and the hardware stores, which didn’t interest the boys. But suddenly, it occurred to Hamid that his granny did not have a pair of tongs. He thought that a pair of tongs for his grandmother would be useful as whenever she had to cook chapatis the iron pan would burn her hands. So Hamid went inside the shop and picked up a pair of tongs and asked the shopkeeper how much was it.
The shopkeeper initially said that it was five paisas to which Hamid requested whether he could sell it off for three paisas and turned away to go before getting rejected. The shopkeeper stopped him and agreed to sell the tongs for three paisas. Hamid carried it on his shoulder as if it were a gun to show it to his friends. His friends inquired of him why he bought a pair of tongs to which Hamid replied that the tongs would neither break nor get washed off.
By eleven the village was again filled with excitement. All those who had gone to the fair were back at home. When Hamid’s grandmother asked him what he had bought, Hamid presented the tongs to her. First his grandmother’s reaction was that her grand son had bought a very foolish gift but when Hamid explained the reason of his purchase, she was overwhelmed by Hamid’s selflessness. She started crying. For the wretched woman, the pair of tongs was as precious as sacks of silver.
The story stands true to the innocence and beauty with which the author has portrayed the character of Hamid. It truly shows how a festival can be enjoyed even without being wealthy or buying gifts. Festivals are to be enjoyed by being caring and generous to each other and celebrating with family and friends.