Thakur ka kuan
Munshi Premchand was the pen name of Hindi and Urdu writer Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava (1880-1936), who was born in Lamhi, a village near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. His written work includes 14 novels, 300 short stories, several translations of English classics, and innumerable essays and editorial pieces.
At the First All India Progressive Writers’ Congress, held in Lucknow on April 10, 1936, Premchand had described literature as “the criticism of life” – an idea explored in many of his works – and stressed that literature must deal with reality.
His short story Thakur ka kuan (The thakur’s well) was published in 1932. It speaks of a society in which the upper castes get away with crimes, while the lower castes struggle to survive. It also focuses on the status of Dalit women, who are discriminated against on three axes – gender, caste and class.
It tells the story of Jokhu, who is ailing man, and his wife Gangi, both ‘untouchables’. Jokhu is thirsty and complains that the water available in the lotaa (mug) stinks. So Gangi decides to get him clean water from the well owned by the thakur (upper caste landowner). She knows that if she gets caught, she’ll be thrashed.
Will Gangi be able to bring the clean water for her husband? Or will she be caught by the thakur and his men? Will the ailing Jokhu be able to drink stench-free water? To find out, read the full story here.
Focus by Kanika Gupta.
01 Jan, 1932