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Munshi Premchand is the author of the tale "Fair Play." It was initially authored and published in Hindi as "Panch Parameshwar" in 1961. This is a tale of two friends, Jumman Shaikh and Algu Chowdary, who comes to realise the value of justice and standing up for what is right in life is very important. Life taught them that justice and morality are superior to everything, even friendship. The story also mentions India's rural panchayat system.
Summary with Explanation
Algu Chowdhry and Jumman Shaikh were close friends. Both had a high level of esteem in the community. Their bond was quite strong. When one of them had to leave the area, they even looked after each other's families. Both were admired for their commitment to one another and genuineness.
Jumman had an elderly aunt who owned some land. She gave it to Jumman on the condition that Jumman would take good care of her. The arrangement worked nicely for two years. Then things started to shift. Jumman and his family started behaving differently. Even the little amount of food that was served to her was full of insults. She finally lost her patience. She came to the realisation that she wasn't wanted in his home. Thus, she requested a monthly payment from Jumman so she could construct a separate kitchen. Jumman stated that his wife knew how to manage the home. Jumman's aunt then made the choice to present the matter before the Panchayat of the village.
The old woman talked to the villagers and asked them for help. Some others felt sorry for her, some made fun of her, and yet others advised her to make amends with her nephew and his wife. She eventually met Algu Choudhary and spoke with him. Algu stated that he couldn't possibly go against his friend. The elderly woman made a request and asked him a question. She asked him whether it was okay to remain silent and not say anything about what he believed to be appropriate. He was further urged by her to attend the Panchayat and speak up for justice. Even though he said nothing, Algu couldn't get her words out of his head.
That evening, the Panchayat was arranged under a large Banyan tree. According to Jumman, the voice of the Panch has the utmost significance and is next to the voice of God. With that in mind, he requested his aunt to recommend a Head Panch. He was willing to comply with the outcome of whatever choice was made. The elderly woman said that the Panch is always fair and objective, and she proposed the name of Algu Chowdhry though she was aware of the fact that he was a close friend of Jumman's. Jumman's attempt to hide his happiness. Algu asked Chachi whether she knew about his friendship with Jumman. She said she knew and felt he wouldn't silence his inner voice for friendship since it's God's voice and God dwells in the Panch's heart. The elderly woman then began detailing every aspect of the situation. Algu then asked Jumman to speak in his defense, assuring him that both he and his aunt were on an equal footing with him. As Algu now was more than just a friend but rather occupied the position of a Panch.
Jumman informed that his aunt transferred her property to him three years before. In exchange, he promised her that he would take care of her till the very last moment of her life. However, though he supported her in whatever way he could, she and his wife argued about situations that he was helpless to prevent or control. As a result, his aunt requested a monthly payment from him which he was unwilling to do. Jumman believed that his closest friend Algu could never betray him. His joy didn't last very long. Algu Chowdhry made a verdict in the elderly woman's favour. Jumman was furious. The event shattered the friendship. After the incident, the two were not seen together. Jumman was offended and longed for revenge.
Unfortunately, Algu Chowdhary eventually found himself in a challenging circumstance. One of his bullocks from a pair passed away. He thus sold the second one to Samju Sahu, a rural cart driver. Sahu agreed to pay the agreed amount for the bullock within a month. However, bullock passed away in less than a month. Sahu did not pay what was owed. The panchayat was once again presented with a case. This time, Sahu suggested that Jumman be called Panch. Algu's heart sank. Even though he was certain that Jumman would rule against him, he decided to go forward with the suggestion nevertheless. Even though Jumman was filled with rage, he was unable to carry it out in his current position as a judge. He was aware of the judge's responsibilities, as well as the dignity and decorum that accompanied this position. His inner voice prevented him from letting his emotions take precedence over what was right and true. He rendered a verdict in Algu's favour. Algu was overjoyed. He cried, proclaiming that it was a victory for justice and panchayat and said God resides in the heart of the Panch. The two friends sobbed as they hugged one another. The disagreement between them had been cleaned up by the tears.
"Fair Play," like many of Premchand's works, has a moral at its core. The author teaches us via the storyline and the characters that the truth always wins. The tutorial concludes on the note that truth will never fail us and will always work in our favour. Thus, the wisest course of action is always to be honest.
Q1. Why did Jumman’s aunt ask for an allowance?
Ans: Jumman’s aunt owned some land and gave it to Jumman on the condition that he would take good care of her. The arrangement worked nicely for two years. Then things started to shift. Jumman and his wife started behaving differently. Even the little amount of food that was served to her was full of insults. She finally lost her patience and came to the realisation that she wasn't wanted in his home. Thus, she requested a monthly payment from Jumman so she could construct a separate kitchen.
Q2. What was the villagers’ reaction when the aunt explained her case to them?
Ans. The old woman went to several villagers to explain her case and get their support. But some showed sympathy, and some laughed at her. A few advised her to make peace with Jumman.
Q3. Why was Jumman happy over Algu’s nomination as head Panch?
Ans: Jumman and Algu were close friends. Jumman thus hoped for a favourable verdict from Algu.
Q4. "God lives in the heart of the Panch", the aunt said. What did she mean?
Ans. The aunt implied that once seated as a judge, a person becomes impartial and like God. He is not influenced by his own preferences. He is not capable of doing injustice. He is the agent of God.
Q5. Why was Algu upset over Jumman’s nomination as head Panch?
Ans: Algu felt upset because he knew Jumman was angry with him. Therefore, he believed that Jumman would take his revenge.
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