Untouchable: Part 3 (Pages 25-35) - Summary

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The Well and the Thirsty Untouchables

      Bakha finishes his morning shift of work and comes back home. He is hungry and thirsty for he has not eaten anything since morning. Sohini tries hard to lit the fire but the wet fuel fails her. She realises that there is no water. She balances the pitcher and goes to the well of the caste Hindus where she counts on the chance of some gentleman taking pity on her and giving her the water she needed. The untouchables crowd round the well. They are in desperate need of water. But they can’t dare drawing water from the well because they can foresee the consequences of this act of pollution. Anand writes, “So the outcastes had to wait for chance to bring some caste Hindu to the well, for luck to decide that he was kind, for Fate to ordain that he had time to got their pitchers filled with water. They crowded round the well, congested the space below its high brick platform, morning, noon and night, joining their hands in servile humility to every passer-by; cursing their fate, and bemoaning their lot, if they were refused the help they wanted; praying, beseeching, and blessing, if some generous soul condescended to listen to them, or to help them.” Fortunately a caste Hindu priest approaches. He is suffering from chronic constipation. He wants to relieve himself of this trouble by drawing water from the well. He draws water and pours it into Sohini’s pitcher because her sylph-like form, well-rounded hips and globular breasts appeal to his prurient desire. Sohini comes back with water. Lakha scolds her for being late. She pays no heed to her father’s invectives. She prepares tea and breakfast and serves to her insistent brothers, Bakha and Rakha, and her father who has least resistance to hunger. Bakha leaves home to do the work which his father instructs him to do in his stead.

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