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A Home for the Mongoose

Madhusree Mukherjee’s Churchill’s Secret War tells an interesting story which happened in 1943 in Bengal. One night Krishna Chaitanya Mahapatro, a seventeen year old courier for the secret parallel government, reached Tamluk carrying copies of their newspaper. He had to make sure he was not caught by the soldiers who were out to catch the freedom fighters. As he hid behind some trees, a farmer, recognizing who he was invited him to spend the night in his home.

The house was a one room shack. The walls were mud plastered on bamboo and the roof, some leaves. Mahapatro noticed that the farmer was walking around as if something bothered him.

“Whatever the villagers had in the house — some fermented rice, some puffed rice–they would offer. But he was so poor he had nothing.” Kanu asked him not to worry. It was the middle of the night; he should just go to sleep. The farmer went inside, but soon emerged. “Babu, you had nothing. I am feeling bad,” he said wringing his hands. Kanu tried again to reassure him, but to no avail. In a little while the man got a small brass pot out of the hut, washed it in a nearby pond and milked the cow. “Please have at least this,” he offered. “I drank the warm milk, and his love brought tears to my eyes,” Mahapatro said [Churchill’s Secret War]

This incident happened in the midst of the Bengal Famine in which at least 3 million people died. If the famed mongoose had visited this farmer’s house, his body would have turned golden.

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One Response to A Home for the Mongoose

  1. froginthewell March 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Actually I am sad the mongoose is not as famous as it should be. It is one of the most touching stories ever. One of those stories that can actually showcase the Hindu approach to genuine yet intense compassion.

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