Childhood in Stories by Munshi Premchand

Abhijeet Pratap
3 min readJan 18, 2020

Munshi Premchand is among the most famous and prolific writers of Hindi literature who wrote several short stories, novels, and dramas. Some of his most famous short stories which he wrote for kids are included in Hindi textbooks.

As a kid, I had read two of his best works for young readers— Idgaah (a spot where fair and prayers are held on the day of Id), and ‘Do Bailon Ki Katha’ (A Story of Two Oxen). I was impressed by the wisdom and maturity of the young character called Hamid in the first story. In the second story, two oxen called Heera and Moti are the main characters. The two oxen impress by their love for their owner.

Hamid’s story is emotional but yet inspires and strikes a chord because it teaches responsibility and love. Hamid is a responsible kid and loves his grandmother a lot. While other kids spend their money on things like toys and dolls, he buys a set of tongs for his grandmother because she burnt her hands while cooking every day. Other kids are also impressed by his wisdom who have spent all their money on food and toys.

Premchand’s depiction of childhood was different from other authors of his time. His characters are also more lively and well crafted. Despite being the emotional story of a widow and her four-year-old grandkid, Idgah is fun to read, serious and exciting. Once the group of kids reaches the Idgah, the fun begins. Hamid is different from the lot and knows how to spend his money. He watches other kids waste their money on toys and sweets. Hamid also likes sweets but he is unlike his friends and knows that their pleasure will vanish in the next few minutes.

So, instead of wasting his money, he keeps it till he finds the right object in the fair. Even on the day of Eid, he has not forgotten that his grandmother does not have a pair of tongs and she will again burn her hands while making chapatis. In this way, the story teaches responsibility and wisdom. I was again reading the story a few days ago and remembered how I would grow restless for a toy in my childhood and my mother would buy it despite knowing it was wastage of money. I did not love toys much and neither one to play with pets and mostly it was a costly pen or pen stand which would catch my attention in the stationary shop. However, my tears would shot whenever she said no.

I learned to handle money a little late in life. When reading Idgah, Hamid’s character seemed to hint the same. There are not many such stories in Hindi literature like Idgah. Premchand also uses Urdu in his story which increases its flavor. He treats the subject from a different angle and it is why the story sounds a bit like folklore. The main theme in the story that engages the readers' attention the most is about childhood temptations. If kids learn how to handle money at a young age, it helps them throughout their life. The story is written mainly for kids but offers a lesson in parenting.

Teaching your kids to handle money responsibly makes you a good father or mother. It also brings you and your kids higher satisfaction. If Hamid was real, he would have grown up to become a finance manager or investor but what satisfies the most about him is how he handles the people around him. His deal does not just bring happiness to him and his grandmother but also to his friends who appreciate his choice the most. He is the star because he is just four years old but strikes a great bargain. Hamid bought the tongs for just three paise instead of five and instead of bargaining, persuaded the seller through his simplicity and love. The story wins because it does not bargain either and persuades young readers to think of money from a different angle; something which you cannot just buy sweets with but can spend to bring home lots of joy at a small price. Other stories by Premchand are also entertaining and filled with fun. Premchand’s Do Bailon Ki Katha (A story of two oxen) is about animal emotions. This one also inspires and helps understand the importance of treating animals with care and kindness.