Among life’s many chases are those that happen to recover things taken away, even if it is a humble towel.
Morning Meanderings is a musings column by Dr Santosh Bakaya. Enjoy her jottings with a hot cup of tea. 🙂
A sparrow, a wren and a myna scuffled near the bird feeder, while an absolutely bored pigeon watched with lacklustre eyes. The heat seemed to be notching up one more degree every day. They needed to wet their parched throats, so they slurped away the water in the bird bath, and looked around for replenishment.
Yes, there was someone coming towards them with a water bottle, he was greeted by a twittering frenzy. Tweets and retweets. As I walked on, I could feel the heat had notched up one more degree.
“Ek patanjali ka colgate dena.” (Give me a patanjali colgate) These words fell into my ears from the tiny apology of a shop tucked between the laborers’ shacks.
“Patanjali ka Colgate?” Before I could correct them, another well-dressed man, a literate one, chimed in, “Haan haan, hum bhi patanjali ka colgate laatey hain. Kaafi achchha hai.” (Yes, yes, we too use patanjali colgate. Its pretty good.)
The heat had left me with no strength to argue with two fans of ‘patanjali colgate’, so I walked on, only to stop in my tracks just a minute later.
My ears tingled and an absolutely rib-tickling scene unspooled before my eyes. An obese man, who needed to reduce at least twenty kilos, was huffing away, chasing and flinging the choicest abuses at an almost skeletal, towel-clad, pimply faced one.
What was up?
“Tu mera towel lekar bhaag gaya, saaley!” (You ran away with my towel) The fat man, who, incidentally was purple-faced too, (before sticklers for political correctness start baying for my blood, allowme to be politically correct and call him ‘pleasantly plump’ although he was far from pleasant) ,was using unheard of expletives. What if one or two expletives fell on my unprotected skull?
“Be positive,” I told myself.
“Be positive,” I repeated.
No one was baying for my blood, but the two characters before me, were baying for each other’s blood.
“Abhi to towel lekar bhaaga hoon, shukar mana teri aurat ko lekar nahin bhaga motey, shukar mana.” (I have just run away with the towel, bless your stars, I did not run away with your wife)
The pimply faced man hissed, eyeing his wife, all the time running full throttle, while the plump one chased him, looking pretty ridiculous in his shorts.
“Kya bola tu?” The plump one’s purplish face twitched dangerously.
“Kya bola tu?” This was the purplish-faced one’s red-faced Amazonian wife, who picked up a shoe from outside the tenements, and hurled at him.
Apparently a bad markswoman, for it fell on an absolutely intimidating looking dog coming from the other side, who broke into a string of barks, more dangerous than the invectives. But none seemed to be bothered.
The fat one, exhausted and breathless, stopped under a tree, stamped one fat foot, the volcano of anger still seething within him. “You blasted idiot!”
He gritted his teeth, raved and ranted, and headed back towards his shack.
Soon the thin man was also back. Now started a harangue, which soon generated heat about undergarments.
Would they now start washing their dirty linen in public? Oh, no with a shudder, I watched them heading towards the water tanker.
But, thankfully I was saved, as the fat one threw his last few incisive words over his shoulder, before stalking into his shack, only to return with a toothbrush in his mouth. The thin one also disappeared into his shack.
Canine barks and human barks were bent on adding to the level of noise pollution. Angry snorts and lingering curses reigned supreme.
Also a couple of grateful moos from an absolutely emaciated cow, from whose jaws I had just yanked out a polythene bag only some minutes back .
The toothbrush in his mouth and a crease on his forehead, he stood glowering, angry eyes, hunting for the thin one.
A spindly youth, who was bent at the stove outside the shacks, chimed in with a broad smile, “Tea is ready.”
And suddenly things changed. I could almost see the lurking demons of the night scurrying away. The thin one also appeared, so did the indignant wife.
I walked a little further, looked back and then bent down. To pick up my fallen jaw from the ground.
The trio – the woman and the two men, were sitting on the wall fronting their tenements, in back slapping bonhomie, slurping tea and guffawing loudly.
Pal mai tola, pal mai masha, they call this in Hindi.
More to read in Morning Meanderings
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