22 June, 2008

One quiet afternoon

"Bowled!” shouted the boy, raising his finger above his head and running to grab the bat from his brother. “Darn!” exclaimed the brother, looking at the fallen stumps behind him. He threw the bat to the ground and marched to pick the ball. “I’ll score a century now”, claimed the brother whose turn it was to bat. “You’ll get out at the next ball”, said the bowler throwing the ball to the batsman. Whack! “Four”, yelled the batsman as his brother ran to fetch the ball. “Keep your voice down or you’ll wake up mother”, chided the brother. On hot, dusty summers like this, the ladies in the colony usually enjoyed a quiet afternoon siesta. A truck drew up and parked near the gate of the house opposite to theirs. Four men jumped out, pushed the gate open and pulled out a key. Opening the door, they walked into the Sharma’s house. “Oh, the Sharmas are shifting too?” wondered the younger boy as they watched two of the men lifting the sofa out of the house and into the truck. People in the colony were constantly shifting when the menfolk got transferred. “Maybe”, replied the brother, “I heard Mrs. Sharma tell mother that they were going to Dehradun for their summer vacation. Father will know where they are moving to.” One of the men hopped onto the back of the truck and pushed the sofa into the recesses. He shouted out some instructions to his mate who went back into the house. The other two men walked to the truck carrying the dining table, while the third man came out again with a chair in each hand. “I’ll work in a bank too”, said the younger boy, watching the men work as a team, “then I’ll get to see new places every time I’m transferred.” “Come, let’s continue the game”, said the brother. The boys continued playing cricket while the men dumped the furniture and appliances in the truck. An hour passed by. The boys took a break and sat on the bench near the gate of their house. “Hey”, called out one of the men, “can I get some water to drink?” The younger boy nodded his head and went into the house. He brought a jug of water and a glass and handed it to the man. The man gulped down the water and wiped his brow. He passed the water around to the other men who joined him. All the furniture had been loaded onto the truck. “Can I get a matchbox?” asked another man sticking a beedi between his teeth. The other boy ran in and brought a matchbox. “Where are you transporting this?” asked the older boy. “Jaipur”, replied the man, lighting up. “Let’s go in”, said the boy to his younger brother glancing at the empty living room of the Sharmas through the bare window. They walked into their house clutching the water jug, glass and matchbox. Mother was still asleep. The boys began a game of snake and ladders and all the goings-on of the noon were forgotten.
Three days later, the Sharma family arrived from their holiday to find that their house had been completely robbed of every single thing they owned, the only witnesses to the incident being the boys next door aged six and four.

26 March, 2008


... by the windowsill....

The early rays of the sun casting clear reflections on the still lagoon waters. In contrast the sea looks dull and gray in the background against the blue sky.