The Boy Who Broke the Bank is a very interesting and humorous story written by Ruskin Bond. The story is about the murmuring of, Nathu ( a sweeper) about irregular payment of his salary. It takes the shape of a rumor and results in the collapse of a very sound bank. At the end of the story, Nathu, who is responsible for the whole episode, wonders innocently about the breaking of the bank.
The story is about Seth Govind Ram’s bank at Pipalangar town. The bank is financially very sound and has won the trust of most of the residents of the town. It has many depositors from the town. Nathu is a sweeper in the bank. One day, while sweeping the steps of the bank, he grumbles about the irregular payment of his salary by the bank authorities. Sitaram, the washerman’s son, who passes by, talks to Nathu and learns about Nathu’s complaints. Nathu tells him that he was planning to leave the job as soon as he gets his salary.
Sitaram in his loose talk with Mrs. Srivastava, who is looking for a sweeper, talks to her about Nathu, and adds that the bank could not pay its employees. Mrs. Srivastava is a talkative lady. She misunderstands Sitaram’s statement and starts believing that the Piplangar bank was on the verge of bankruptcy. She meets Mrs. Bhushan in the market She informs Mrs. Buhshan about the weak position of the bank. She goes to the market and tells her husband immediately about the exaggerated news of the bank. Her news shocks Kamal Kishore the photographer; Deep Chand, the barber; bank’s customer, and many others in the market. Deep Chand is so startled that he injures his customer while shaving. His customer tries to contact Govindram on phone, but as Govind Ram is enjoying his vacation in Kashmir, he is unavailable. This strengthens the rumor and it spreads like a wildfire in the entire town of Pipalnagar.
Naturally, all the account holders and the depositors flock near the bank premises and demand their money back. Everyone tries to analyze the condition in his or her own way. Those who had no money in the bank considered themselves to be wise. Some said that Govin Ram had left the mother country. By noon, all the cash was exhausted in the bank. The harassed manager tried to request the people to wait for a day so that he might manage the emergency funds from another bank, but none is ready to accept the proposal. People want their amount there and then. He tries to assure people of the sound condition of the bank, and also adds that the bank has plenty of amount, but it will take time to collect the money, but none believes in him. Some mischief-mongers among the crowd excite people and start stoning the bank building and break the glasses. Thus, a sound bank is broken, unfortunately.
The following day when Nathu goes to the bank for his duty, he finds a lot of broken glasses and stones on the steps of the bank. He murmurs angrily that the bank authorities were not paying him regularly on one hand and were also increasing his work. Sitaram comes and tells Nathu that he must accept the new job as the bank is already closed. Nathu is quite surprised to hear the news. He says “how could it happen?” At the end of the story, we find Nathu murmuring on the bank steps that nobody would ever have thought that the bank would collapse. For him, the event is a mystery.
Thus, humor dominates the story. The description of Mrs. Bhushan talking to her husband, the customer running with one side unshaved, and the beggar Ganpat, running with a crooked log, etc. create a sea of laughter. The end of the story has the climax of humor, when Nathu, who is responsible for the whole episode, wonders innocently about the breaking of the bank. The writer has portrayed all the characters so nicely that the readers get a live picture of an Indian town under the spell of a rumor. The story entertains the readers.