Untouchable: Part 6 (Pages 60-83) - Summary

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The Massive Temple

      Bakha now reaches the temple, a colossal, huge turreted structure of massive stone and carved massonry the florid exuberance of whose detailed and intricate decorations strikes a strong kind of awe into his being. ‘Ram, Ram, Sri, Sri Hari, Narayan, Sri Krishna,’ many people chant the names of various deities and enter the temple. He has a strong desire to view inside the temple but he is not allowed entrance because his presence is believed to defile it. He begins to sweep the courtyard. The work of cleaning or sweeping the courtyard is strenuous but it is less tiring and contemptuous. He collects the rubbish and puts them aside and set them on fire. His temptation to view the deities grows intense and stronger. He is unable to resist it. He moves on and stumbles for a moment, regains his balance but soon he is close enough to peer inside the temple. He sees two priests performing Hindu rituals. The awe is overwhelming. Anand portrays, “Bakha was profoundly moved. He was affected by rhythm of the song. His blood coursed along the balanced melodic line to the final note of strength with such vigour that his hands joined unconsciously and his head hung in the worship of the unknown god’.


      An outcry and hullabaloo raise, “polluted ! polluted ! polluted !” The commotion renders him completely unnerved. His eyes are covered with darkness. He cannot see anything. His tongue and throat are parched. He wants to utter a cry, a cry of fear, but his voice fails him. He opens his mouth wide to speak. It is of no use. Beads of sweat covered his forehead. He tries to raise himself from the awkward attitude of prostration but his limbs have no strength left in them. For a second he was as if dead. Sohini, Bakha’s sister is molested by Pundit Kali Nath as Sohini herself reports, “He-e-e- just teased me. And then when I was bending down to work, he came and held me by my breast”. Bakha becomes angry and rushes like storm to punish the Brahmin dog but in the mean time Sohini arrests his progress by dragging hard at the lapel of his overcoat. His eyes flared wild and red, and his teeth ground between them the challenge ‘I could show you what that Brahmin dog has done !’ But relaxes when he is assured by his sister that her modesty is not ravished. He offers himself to go in stead of Sohini, to collect bread.


      Bakha does not realise the work of collecting bread any more congenial; he realises it rather hostile. One generous old-lady gives him a chapati but another proves to be hostile and heaps affronts and invectives on him for trespassing the prohibited zone. Bakha tired. He takes a brief nap, leaving against a door. But he is scolded for exploiting a luxury of a caste Hindu door. He is asked to vacate the place immediately. On the other hand the lady is too generous to an overfed Sadhu. Bakha, being frustrated and disappointed returned home. Bakha’s father turns indifferent to his agonizing experience of collecting bread. Bakha gets a fresh task of collecting bread.

Bakha and His Apathetic Father

      Bakha narrates everything to his father. He tells him about the humiliating experiences of collecting bread. But his apathetic father does not sympathise with him. Lakha holds him responsible for Bakha’s being slapped by a caste Hindu for alleged pollution. He suggests Bakha that an outcaste is obliged to announce his approach. Although Lakha’s advice is bitter to Bakha, but he is pragmatic. He narrates the callousness of a caste-Hindu physician who once refuses to give medicine to Rakha while he is in critical condition. Bakha vicariously feels the trauma of a father whose son is dying because of a physician’s apathy.

Rakha and His Family at Meals

      The insufficient food Bakha brings is supplemented by a basketful of scraps of bread and other articles of food which Rakha fetches from English mess. They share them together as opposed to caste Hindu’s may of eating from separate plates. The soggy bread left by some sepoy is nauseating. Bakha feels vomiting. Anyhow he controls. Bakha quits from meal very quickly and it is surprising to Lakha. Bakha makes an excuse that he is going to Ram Charan’s house where he has been invited to his sister’s wedding.

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