COCK FIGHT BY AMIN KAMIL SUMMARY AND QUESTIONS 2

COCK FIGHT BY AMIN KAMIL SUMMARY AND QUESTIONS

Introduction of Cock Fight

Shahmal is one of the two main characters of Amin Kamil’s short story ‘Cock Fight’. She along with her adversary – Jani “the skinny” carry the entire dramatic action to its logical conclusion in an extremely befitting and flawless manner. She is a young lady married to one – Ghulam Khan, hardly a year or so before. She exhibits all the traits and features of a lower middle class illiterate and uncultured Kashmiri slum dweller.

She is an ill-mannered and ill-tempered young woman always hot under the collar and apt let loose a volley of abuses on small pretexts. She is jealous and bent upon competing with her neighbours at all costs. It is quite after a lot persuasion that she makes her husband – perhaps a daily wages earner, to concede to her demand of getting a cock to her house. It takes her at least a fortnight of persistence to get the demand fulfilled.

She is quite an expert in taunting others and does possess quite some expertise in giving abusive and insulting nicknames to others. She is always bent upon showing off of her new possessions with a bid to cow down her neighbours and thus to establish her superiority – an attempt in which she almost always feels except in the drop scene of the story when her new cock trounces Jani’s cock and make sit run for life. Needless to remark that Jani’s forehead is drenched in beads of sweat – a certain indicator of shame and defeat.

She is ill-mannered to the extent that she visits her neighbour Samad, the clock slaughtered in an unwashed Pheran ( apron) just soiled by her newborn baby.

Like all her counterparts of the lower middle class, she is highly superstitious as is evidenced by her being tortured and troubled on account of her cocks crowing in the night and her insisting her husband to behead it. However, she possesses an appreciable trait namely hospitality which is evidenced by her extending an invitation for dinner to Samad when he asks for it. She is quite boastful and, more often than not, resorts to shameful lies and hyperbolic statements only to cow down Jani. Her fixing the new cock’s price, age and pedigree arbitrarily is a typical shameless lair.

Summary of Cock Fight

When Ghulam Khan brings home a rooster, whose price he cleverly exaggerates to his wife Shahmal, her pride inflates and she forgets almost everything around her. She announces loudly – making sure her voice reaches the ears of her neighbour and rival Jani the Skinny – her ownership of a rooster of rare pedigree. She dotes on the rooster and praises it to the skies directing loud taunts at Jani. But when she calls Jani‘s rooster a scavenger, Jani feels abused and outraged. In fact, Jani‘s dotted red rooster looks much sturdier than Shahmal‘s impressive snow-white rooster.

At night, Shahmal’s rooster starts crowing. She is stunned and decides to get it killed. What is eating her from within is that Jani would taunt her for having bought an ominous rooster. Shahmal is filled with disgust for her rooster and tries hard to not invite Jani‘s attention to it.

Getting home to take her rooster to Samad, the slaughterer Shahmal sees the roosters engaged in a fierce and gory fight. Jani’s rooster has a track record of victories in the neighbourhood. The dumbfounded Shahmal is sure of a loss and the consequent disgrace. With her heart in her mouth, she watches the ferocious animals recklessly attack each other, pecking and tearing sharply with their beaks.

Shahmal is about to start cursing Jani’s rooster and start a quarrel with her when Jani’s rooster flees the fight. Shahmal makes it clear to Jani that her rooster’s crowing at the fall of night is no vice as long as it has the proper fighting mettle.

Character sketch of Shahmal

Shahmal is the wife of Ghulam Khan. She is beautiful and young. She is a typical illiterate, Kashmiri woman. Shahmal is superstitious. When the cock crows at the fall of night, she tells her husband, “Didn’t you hear? The cock. He is crowing now. At the fall of night!‘” Her voice is wail. ” What a creature of ill-omen to bring home!” Again she says, “Get up quickly and kill him. Don’t you know that a cock that crows at the fall of night should be killed immediately? It is a creature of ill-omen.”

Shahmal is spiteful and a show-off. This is clear from the following remarks made by her. “This is the type of cock I was looking for. Of course, the markets are flooded day and night with scavenger cocks, which the neighbourhood has bought”.

Shahmal is snobbish. She has been waiting for the call by Jani, the Skinny ever since the rooster was brought, and the instant it comes, she strikes up an attitude, lifts up her head, smoothes out the imaginary creases in her pheran and flourishes her silver earrings saying, “My husband has just bought it. Four-and – half rupees he paid for it.” Shahmal stresses the word ‘rupees’ more than her husband had done a short while back.
Shahmal is sharp-tongued. She has spoken to others particularly to Jani, the Skinny in a harsh, critical and insulting manner.

Shahmal is jealous of Jani, the Skinny. She always criticizes and taunts her. When her rooster defeats Jani‘s rooster, she criticizes her by saying that a rooster of her may have a thousand vices, he may even crow at the fall of night, these are of no account in her eyes if she has the proper fighting mettle. This was the type of rooster she wanted. Otherwise, the market is flooded with innumerable, stinking scavenger roosters.

Theme of Cock Fight

This short story depicts Kashmiri culture and is based on the theme that we should have good relations with our neighbours. We should be friendly to them. We should never speak to them in such a way that they get hurt. Rather we should speak to them using such words which make them happy.

The story is about two women, Shahmal and Jani, the Skinny who are neighbours, but they have no good terms with each other. They are sharptongued particularly Shahmal who is spiteful, snobbish and irritable. She praises her rooster to the skies, but criticizes Jani‘s rooster and calls it a stinking and scavenger rooster. The writer indirectly wants to suggest that we should not be jealous of the possessions of our neighbours if we want to have peace of mind.

Another theme can be that only human beings believe in narrow domestic walls.
On the other hand, birds do not know any wall or boundary. Jani, the Skinny‘s rooster crosses the wall and enters the compound of Shahmal who feels irritated and tells Jani to control her rooster. It is clear that birds can go anywhere and sit anywhere. There is a lesson for human beings not to quarrel with one another and avoid making narrow domestic walls. We should live in peace.

Title of the Story Cock Fight

The protagonist of the story is a rooster. The whole story revolves around him. He brings both happiness and sadness in the life of Shahmal, his owner. When the rooster is bought, Shahmal becomes very happy, but when the same rooster begins to crow at the fall of night, she becomes extremely sad and she decides to get it slaughtered. On returning home from the slaughterer‘s to take the rooster to him, she sees her rooster defeat Jani‘s rooster in an unexpected turn of events giving the story its anti-climactic ending. Shahmal changes her mind not to kill the rooster. Thus, the story has an appropriate title.

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