Quotes Love and Death

April 21st to 27th


‘Be quick,’ said Athira; and Suket Singh was quick; but Athira was quick no longer. Then he lit the pile at the four corners and climbed on to it, re-loading the gun. The little flames began to peer up between the big logs atop of the brushwood.

‘The Government should teach us to pull the triggers with our toes,’ said Suket Singh grimly to the moon.


This is from “Through the Fire”, collected in Life’s Handicap.

Athira is the wife of Madu, an old charcoal-burner, who beats her, and she runs away with a young soldier Suket Singh. Madu puts a curse on her, and, believing that she is doomed, Athira begins to wither away.

She goes home, accompanied by Suket Singh, and they decide to die together. They climb up on a great pile of Madu’s wood for charcoal outside the house, and set it alight. Suket Singh shoots her and then himself. Madu is left bemoaning his lost four rupees worth of charcoal wood.

I slid from the boom into deep water, and behind me came the wave of the wrath of the river. I heard its voice and the scream of the middle part of the bridge as it moved from the piers and sank, and I knew no more till I rose in the middle of the great flood. I put forth my hand to swim, and lo! it fell upon the knotted hair of the head of a man. He was dead, for no one but I, the Strong One of Barhwi, could have lived in that race.


This is from “In Flood Time”  collected in In Black and White and  Soldiers Three and Other Stories.

An old Muslim, the warden of a ford across a great river, tells a tale of his youth and strength.  He had loved a woman in a Hindu village across the river. They could not marry, but they used to meet  secretly in the fields.

Once he had swum across when the river was in flood, and was carried away. He would have drowned had he not been able to cling to the body of a dead man. When he reached land he found it was the corpse of his hated rival, who had sworn to kill him.

From the black dark, Bisesa held out her arms into the moonlight. Both hands had been cut off at the wrists, and the stumps were nearly healed.

Then, as Bisesa bowed her head between her arms and sobbed, some one in the room grunted like a wild beast, and something sharp – knife, sword, or spear, thrust at Trejago in his boorka.


This is from “Beyond the Pale” collected in Plain Tales from  the Hills.

An Englishman has had a passionate love affair with a beautiful young Indian widow, whom he has met in a gully in the old city of Lahore where she sits behind a grating. They don’t see each other for a while and when he goes back to see her he finds that she has been found out and savagely punished. He narrowly escapes a vengeful knife thrust.