The story is set in a fictional town called Pipalnagar.
Table of Contents
Nathu – A Poor Sweeper
Nathu is a poor sweeper who works in the Pipalnagar bank. Instead of doing his work properly, he is not well paid. He is frustrated and looking for a new job. Nathu is anxious about his payment and in his frustration unconsciously raises dust. Sitaram, the son of the washerman passes Nathu and faces the dust. Sitaram understands Nathu’s emotions and talks to him.
Sitaram asks him if he is frustrated because the bank is not paying him his extra two rupees monthly. Nathu becomes emotional and says the bank is not paying him even his regular salary. He also adds: Who would think a bank would hold up a poor man’s salary?*Not another week I work in this place. (page 44, TBWBTB)*
Sitaram Condoles Nathu
Sitaram, after hearing Nathu’s sad story tries to give him condolence. He also adds that he would lookout for new jobs for Nathu. Sitaram visits Mrs. Srivastava’s house and gets to know that she is looking for a sweeper. Sitaram suggests Nathu’s name and also shares some glimpses of Nathu’s sad story. Mrs. Srivastava tells Sitaram to call Nathu to her the next day.
The story takes a twist when Mrs. Srivastava tells the story to her friend Mrs. Bhushan. She changes the tone of the story and presents it differently. Mrs. Bhushan replies, if they can’t pay the sweeper they must be in a bad way. None of the others could be getting paid either. (page 45.TBWBTB)*
This story now spreads like fire. From Mr. Bhushan to Kamal Kishore to Deep Chand to Old Ganpat the story continues to change its tone and turns into an entirely different one! People start thinking that the owner, Govind Seth Ram had fled to Kashmir with all the money from the bank.
Protest in Front of Bank
The townspeople of Pipalnagar start protesting in front of the bank. They shout, GIVE us our money or we’ll break In!*(page 47, TBWBTB) and Fetch the Seth, we know he’s hiding in a safe deposit locker!*(page 47, TBWBTB) The crowd gets larger and larger. Some people join the crowd without having a bank account. They become restless. Soon they start throwing rocks and break the window of the bank.
The next morning Nathu arrives and sees the terrible condition of the bank. He becomes frustrated as he has to do more struggle to clean everything off. Soon Sitaram arrives and shares the terror of the previous day with him. Nathu goes back to his work, sweeps the floor, and waits for the manager to claim his money. He doesn’t have any idea about the collapse of the bank and thinks about how the thing happened.