June 2013

Outwitting a thief

Mangoes under bed

(This is a feeble translation of a story by Bengali humorist Shibram Chakraborty. Shibram Chakraborty's stories are full of pun and play with words, and this translation is grossly inadequate to reproduce the same.)

During the summer holidays an urge to taste luscious mangoes forced me to pack my bags and leave for the village where my uncle lived. I reached the village a little late in the evening, and when I entered my uncle's home I found the family was preparing to go out. A mythological play was being staged in the neighbouring village which was likely to continue till the break of dawn.

I was crestfallen. "Oh, my goodness!" I ejaculated, "Here I have come all the way to have a go at your mangoes and all of you are going out to watch a play!"

"Who is stopping you from eating mangoes? Eat as many mangoes as you please .... there is a heap of them under the bed," aunt said. "Actually, that would be fine. There is nothing else to eat in the house - we have all finished our meals and are just stepping out. Who is going to cook for you now?"

That hit me hard. It was as if I had sprained my ankle and fallen flat on my face. "How can I live only on mangoes?" I asked in dismay.

"What else can I do? You do not inform of your visits beforehand, and appear suddenly. How was I to know you would be coming today?"

Aunt was overcome with a feeling of sympathy for me. "There are all varieties of mangoes - 'Gopalbhog', 'Brindavani', 'Khirsapati'; there are all kinds of them. There are a few 'Fazlis' also; they may not have quite ripened, but see you might find one or two ripe ones and that would be enough to fill your stomach," she said.

"I will not leave any mango, whether ripe or raw," I told her. "When you return tomorrow, you will find all the mangoes gone; there will only be me."

"It is good that you have come, else the house would have remained vacant. But beware! Thieves have become a menace here of late. Before going off to sleep make sure to shut all the windows and the door, and latch them properly. The way you sleep! It would not be a surprise if thieves carry you away! Fix the latches well. Is that understood?"

"You don't have to rub it. I fear foxes more than thieves. Thieves only have a love for material things; they do not have any love for human beings. But I have heard that your foxes carry away people. They are the rulers in your villages!"

One of my cousins agreed. "Yes Shibu-da, if our fox kings come to know that someone like you has arrived in our village ....."

I did not allow him to complete the sentence. "Don't you worry, I will lock the door from inside," I told him.

"There is a ball of 'zari' thread on the bed. Don't mess with it; remember to put it on the shelf," aunt reminded me of yet another important task before leaving.

I saw the ball of "zari" thread on the bed, and, after peeking under the bed, saw heaps and heaps of mangoes.

Aunt has this artistic passion for weaving patterns on silk saris with "zari" thread. There was a silk sari on the bed on which aunt had commenced weaving the patterns, but the work was yet incomplete. I carefully picked up the sari and the ball of "zari" and placed them on the shelf. I, then, turned my attention to the real work at hand - my labours with the mangoes!

After a tiring occupation with the mangoes, I fell flat on the bed. So intense had been my combat with the mangoes that, leave alone locking the door from inside, I had forgotten to pull down the mosquito net even.

After eating mangoes, you are overcome with sleep. And when people like me who relish their mangoes have more than their fill, you may well imagine their condition!

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Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu

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