- Author: Shrilal Shukla, Gillian Wright
- Publisher: Penguin
- ISBN: 9780140116625
Life here crawls along at a leisurely pace, unfolding at evening bhang-drinking sessions, the local bar, the village wrestling pit, at paan shops, in nearby lentil fields, at gambling sessions and country melas... M.A. pass Rangnath has just arrived here for some rest-and-relaxation. His host is his Uncle Vaidyaji, the local doctor, who pontificates on everything from ayurveda to politics to the 'essence' of life. Vaidyaji is also Shivpalganj's most important citizen. He controls the village's grain co-operative and the intermediate college; his elder son, Badri Wrestler, swings arguments simply by weight of his no-nonsense presence; and his younger son, Ruppan Babu, unhesitatingly leads 'college-student protests' against anyone opposing his father.
Hanging on to Vaidyaji's coat-tails are a host of oddballs, including a college principal who never wants the College Committee to meet, and Sanichar, a layabout bhang-grinder who becomes Pradhan-elect of the Village Council. But a rebellion is brewing among the college teachers and Vaidyaji's sworn arch-rival, Ramadhin Bhikhmakhervi, Shivpalganj's gambling dada, opium dealer and poet and boot, won't give up the Village Council, his domain, without a fight... lawsuits fly, the grain co-operative is ransacked, a Vaidyaji hoodlum ends up in the town court on a trumped-up burglary charge... factionalism, wheeling-and-dealing, corruption, all take centrestage, and Rangnath, confronted with such chaos, finds his textbook learning irrelevant.