1. EVERY year on the occasion of Eid, there
was a fair in our village. Eid was
celebrated only one day but the fair lasted
many days. Tradesmen from far and
wide came there with all kinds of goods
to sell. You could buy anything from a
small pin to a big buffalo.
2. Uncle took me to the fair. Bhaiya, who
worked for us at home, came with us.
There was a big crowd at the fair. Uncle
was leading us through the crowd when
he met a few of his friends. They wanted
him to spend some time with them.
3. Uncle asked me whether I would like
to look around the fair with Bhaiya till
he came back. I was happy to do that.
Uncle warned me neither to buy anything
nor to go too far out while he was away. I
promised that I would wait for him.
4. Bhaiya and I went from shop to shop.
There were many things I would have
liked to buy, but I waited for Uncle to
return. Then we came to what was called
the Lucky Shop. The shopkeeper was
neither young nor old. He was a middleaged
man. He seemed neither too smart
nor too lazy. He wanted everybody to try
their luck. There were discs on the table
with numbers from one to ten facing
down. All you had to do was to pay
50 paise, pick up any six discs, add up
the numbers on the discs and find the
total. The article marked with that
number was yours.
5. An old man paid 50 paise and
selected six discs. He added up the
numbers on them and found the total
was 15. He was given the article marked
15, which was a beautiful clock. But the
old man did not want a clock. The
shopkeeper obliged him by buying it
back for 15 rupees. The old man went
away very pleased.
6. Then a boy, a little older than I, tried
his luck. He got a comb worth 25 paise.
The shopkeeper looked neither happy
nor sad. He bought the comb from the
boy for 25 paise. The boy tried his luck
again. He now got a fountain-pen worth
three rupees. Then he tried a third time
and got a wrist watch worth 25 rupees.
When he tried again he got a table lamp
worth more than 10 rupees. The boy was
happy and went away with a smile and a
good deal of cash.
7. I wanted to try my luck too. I looked
at Bhaiya. He encouraged me. I paid 50
paise and took six discs. My luck was
not too good. I got two pencils. The
shopkeeper bought them from me for 25
paise. I tried again. This time I got a bottle
of ink, also of little value. The shopkeeper
bought that too for 25 paise. I took a
chance for the third time. Still luck was
not with me.
8. I had hopes of winning a big prize and
continued to try my luck again and again,
paying 50 paise each time. But every time
I got a trifle. At last I was left with only 25
paise. Again the shopkeeper showed his
kindness. He said I could either play
once more with 25 paise or settle the
account then and there. I played again and
the last 25 paise also disappeared.
9. People were looking at me. Some were
laughing at my bad luck, but none
showed any sympathy. Bhaiya and I went
to the place where Uncle had left us and
waited for him to return.
Presently he came. He looked at me and
said, "Rasheed, you look upset. What is
10. I did not say anything. Bhaiya told him
what had happened. Uncle was neither
angry nor sad. He smiled and patted me.
He took me to a shop and bought me a
beautiful umbrella, biscuits and sweets
and some other little gifts. Then we
11. Back home, Uncle told me that the
Lucky Shop man had made a fool of me.
"No, Uncle," I said, "it was just my
"No, my boy," said Uncle, "it was
neither good luck nor bad luck."
"But, Uncle," I said, "I saw an old man
getting a clock and a boy getting two or
three costly things."
"You don’t know, child," Uncle said,
"they were all friends of the shopkeeper.
They were playing tricks to tempt you to
try your luck. They wanted your money
and they got it. Now forget about it, and
don’t tell anybody of your bad luck or
When the gong sounds ten in the morning and
I walk to school by our lane,
Every day I meet the hawker crying, "Bangles,
There is nothing to hurry him on, there is no
road he must take, no place he must go to, no
time when he must come home.
I wish I were a hawker, spending my day in
the road, crying, "Bangles, crystal bangles!"
When at four in the afternoon I come back from
I can see through the gate of that house the
gardener digging the ground.
He does what he likes with his spade, he soils
his clothes with dust, nobody takes him to
task, if he gets baked in the sun or gets wet.
I wish I were a gardener digging away at the
garden with nobody to stop me from digging.
Just as it gets dark in the evening and my
mother sends me to bed,
I can see through my open window the
watchman walking up and down.
The lane is dark and lonely, and the streetlamp
stands like a giant with one red eye in
The watchman swings his lantern and walks
with his shadow at his side, and never once
goes to bed in his life.
I wish I were a watchman walking the street
all night, chasing the shadows with my
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