Rumours about rumour-mongers can be befuddling. Santosh Bakaya bumps into a sunbeam only to realise she isn’t what she is rumoured to be.
Enjoy Morning Meanderings Season 2 with your hot cuppa and cookies. ☕🍪😊
Before the pandemic, she could be seen waddling around, bloated like a gluttonous duck, like one of the ducks in Old MacDonald’s farm :
“Here a quack
there a quack
Everywhere a quack.”
All her quacks would become a crescendo of quacks callousing the eardrums of everyone in the vicinity. Some loved to listen to her tall tales, some avoided her, and some, like me, humoured her, talking about the weather bulletin and slinking away. A small fire in one house can leap up and ravage entire neighbourhoods. Similarly, many a fiery scrap from her dangerous armoury had done exactly that. Singed the reputation of many unsuspecting people to ashes. In her petty rumour-mongering, she was known to have gone overboard many a time.
But today morning, when I saw her after almost three years, I did not want to scurry away or talk about the weather. What was exciting about reiterating the horrors of the scorching hot weather? I thought removing a few drops of perspiration from my forehead.
I noticed that she seemed to have gained a few more kilos, and was smiling in my direction. I also felt that her girth was not the result of overeating or a sedentary lifestyle, but the fact that she, who had been prone to picking up sundry scraps of gossip, embellishing them with slivers of her own sparkling imagination, and offering it to the first person who came along, had not been able to do so due to the forced incarceration. The saucy nuggets which went undelivered due to the lockdown had also become the corollary damage of the lockdown and settled in nooks and crevices of the folds of her skin.
So today, now out in the open after so many days, she was the very personification of one huge sunbeam, lighting up her entire rubicund face.
A tiny sunbeam fell in my direction. I could see the wily spider of Mary Howitt in her very persona. And she could see a possible victim in me.
‘”Will you walk into my parlour ?” Said the spider to the fly.’
What if I scurry away?
Her smile became broader, and her plods became long, powerful strides, as she headed in my direction. One bloated sunbeam.
A sudden image flashed before my eyes. The rumour-monger catching me by my kurta sleeve, bringing her knee up into my chin, knocking a couple of my teeth out and hissing, “listen to me, or…”
My ears started roaring, and I started gasping. I felt that she would tie me up, put a tape on my lips, drag me under the shade of a tree, make me sit there, and break into a litany of rumours, accompanied by grotesque gestures. A line from The Spider and the Fly flashed on my mental screen,
“Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye
And take a lesson from the tale of the Spider and the Fly”, and I almost broke into a run. But not before I felt a heavy restraining hand on my shoulder.
“Where are you running? All of us have become paranoid these days. I almost wanted to scurry away on seeing you. We have become so used to masks and social distancing, that it has become second nature to avoid people. Yesterday after almost three years, I asked the Amazon man whether he would have a glass of water. He looked at me in disbelief and then nodded, smiling broadly.”
I looked at her wondering when was the last time I had offered the Amazon man a glass of water. I could not remember. It appeared ages since I had done that.
“This pandemic has made us inhuman and insensitive,” she said with a rueful smile and plodded away, smiling and waving at me.
“Stay safe,” she said and I parroted her, still lost in thought and headed back home.
The first thing that I did was to fill more bottles with water.
The Amazon man was at our door at least twice daily, and many a time I had turned my face away, callously ignoring him wiping the perspiration from his brow.
In hindsight, I think that the real rumour was that this woman was a “rumour-monger” and it had been dedicatedly spread by the rumour-loving neighbourhood.
(Sketches courtesy Pixabay)
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