The extra rice

My father passed away in 1942 during the second World War. In the last year of his life, the Japanese began to bombard East Bengal and a huge hole, like a swimming pool, opened up in front of our bank in Chittagong. Many times, when we heard the planes coming, we had to go inside the air raid shelters.

My brother Chitta was concerned that if the war continued, it would be difficult to find enough rice and other food for the entire family. So he sent one of our servants to the town to buy about forty huge bags of rice. He bought enough not only for our family but also to sell to the poor people at a very cheap price. The servant brought them back to our village by boat and others came to help him unload them. I tried to lift one bag, but I could not even budge it.

My brother also bought other kinds of food. He kept everything in a temporary shop, and every night one servant would stand guard in front of it. One night, it was the turn of the servant who bought the rice to be the guard. His name was Phoni. That night, very nicely he stole a few bags of rice!

It seems that he took it to another village. There he sold it to one particular shop. It happened that this shop was very near my aunt's house. Quite innocently, my aunt went to that shop a few days later to buy rice. The shopkeeper told her, "Today I am giving it to you at a very cheap price because somebody from Shakpura has sent his servant with a very large amount of rice to sell to me."

My aunt knew that my brother had bought extra rice and so when my aunt saw him two or three days later, she said: "Why did you give your rice away to be sold? Was it wise? Now you do not have enough in reserve in case of emergency."

This is how that bad fellow was exposed. In order to sell the rice to the unsuspecting shopkeeper, he said that my brother had authorised him to bring it there and he was supposed to take the money back to my brother. But he never returned. We never saw Phoni again. Phoni came from that village where my aunt lived. It was our aunt who brought him to our place. We took him as our servant on her recommendation. So this is how relatives can sometimes do us a favour!