Urban Tales

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A humorous tale derived from the visits to my native place.

Submitted: September 18, 2008

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Submitted: September 18, 2008

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I awoke with a start as I felt some light in front of my eyes. It was a “Kajwa” or Glowworm. Ah yes! I was on vacation and we were at my mother’s village for the summer as were my cousins from Mumbai. I looked around to see that my cousins and brother were asleep. The stars were shining overhead yet all the elders were awake and on to their business. I could smell the sweet scent of the wood and hear it crackling as it burnt to heat the water.

I went inside the little house to see all my aunts and uncles drinking tea and getting ready for baths or fill water. My grandmother asks me if I will have some tea. I tell her I have to brush. I never got the logic of drinking tea before brushing my teeth. At home I wouldn’t touch a snack or tea before my bath but things changed altogether when I came here. I quickly finished the brushing. My mother asks “A—, are you going or should I get the bath ready?” That of course referred to MB aka morning business. To explain this question, I will have to indulge you into a little history.

Me, I was a rabbit at heart. I feared every insect or living thing under the sun. This problem magnified when I went to Mom’s village every summer as the living things trebled. But the crux of the problem was that the villages hadn’t yet adopted the concept of the Western Commode. To do your business, you had to take a pail of water into the forest. And me being the scaredy cat that I was never set foot into that forest so early in the morning, preferring the silent hot afternoons instead. But yesterday, a funny incident occurred as some villagers were hunting a boar and it came running to where I was. Well so they say for I never saw the boar because as soon as I heard footsteps I was gone. And when I narrated the tale to my mother, everyone made fun of me. I had gone to sleep with a resolution of getting up early and earning some respect.

“Yes.” “You won’t be afraid na? Do you want me to go with you or should I sent somebody with you?” “No, I will be fine.” The thought of somebody going with me was horrible. I was 9 but kids younger than me roamed the forests without fear for life. So I was given an old bisleri bottle and told to get rid of it. And off I was! My aunt shouting behind me to not go far into the forest. I walked through the fields full of little stubs that looked like dead grass but in reality were the cut rice stems. I stepped on them, a little game, for they are quite sturdy and make you feel like you step on a spring before they are crushed.

I went into the forest and found a little stream flowing, parah they called it, a canal for diverting water to the fields during the rains. The rains had been particularly early this year with the heavens showering the earth with little drops in late May. I saw Dhondu up ahead carrying a can. I went the opposite direction and found a nice little clearing to finish up my business. I got rid of the bottle and went back to the stream to wash as little drops of rain began to fall. And then I heard it “Myaoh, Myaoh” a cry I had been waiting to hear since witnessing the Peacock dance last year. But it was quite near, I turned and lo! before me was a Peacock in all of its glory as if dancing. It had apparently not seen me as there was another female peacock for whom he had his impressive tail at display. I watched on in awe forgetting that I had to wash my hands. I wanted to watch the full dance.

Suddenly the peacock ran for there were sounds of running feet and excited shrieks. Out came Dhondu and a bunch of village kids from the tree. They asked me about the Peacock to which I replied that he ran after he heard them. “Ah! But at least we have some feathers for us!” Dhondu screamed with glee. I smiled, we had a bunch of them at home, from a peacock Dad found last year in the forest… half eaten. For all their splendour they smelled bad. I washed my hands with Dhondu’s eyes on me. “Why are you washing here? Haven’t you washed at home?” “Yes I did. But its good to wash ones hands after MB.” “Assa? Earth does the same thing.” And with that he scooped some earth onto his hands and rubbed vigorously. “See? Now they are clean.” he continued “Come with us now, we are going down too. Take this mango to eat along the way.”

I looked at the mango given to me and then the image of Dhondu not washing his hands came before my eyes. I quickly stuffed it into my pocket. We took a different way this time, through the wild mangoes. With various varieties of mango trees owned by the villagers, nobody gave heed to the wild ones. There were plenty for us as everyone stuffed their pockets while throwing away many half eaten ones to eat more. Me, alone looking on, touching nothing for my eyes had seen rabbits, brownish black ones scurring for cover.I went after them but they had vanished. There were some wild amla bushes from which I picked some amlas and returned to the clearing not to find a sign of the others. I took another path and came down to the fields, I could clearly see the little house of my grandparents but it was a long walk.

I continued my game of stepping on the stubs as I made my way home. On arriving, I went for a bath first [the bathroom being nothing more than banana trees with a sheet for privacy] and then brought the mango out. Every one was having the morning meal or nyahari and I was seated next to my father. “Where did you get that liti?” My mother asked, liti being a type of mango, small yet sweet. My grandparents had a liti tree in the backyard but there had been no fruit on it that year. “Dhondu gave it to me in the morning.” “Then why did you not eat it?” My aunt asked smirking, knowing full well why I hadn’t, or so she thought. “He hadn’t washed his hands.” I replied, to which there was some laughing. “He rubbed his hands in the earth and said they were clean again.” I continued.

“That is what the villagers do. For them its as good as us having washed our hands in dettol soap.” My father explained.

“But what if that very earth had been the grounds of somebody’s MB the day before?” The whole room roared with laughter.

To this very day I haven’t got an answer.


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