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Outwitting a Thief

(This is a feeble translation of a hilarious story by humorist, Shibram Chakraborty. The objective is merely to acquaint readers with Shibram Chakraborty's stories and to exhort them to read the original story in Bengali, or better translations. Shibram Chakraborty's stories are full of pun and play with words; this translation hasn't been able to reproduce the same.)

Mangoes under bed

I once came face-to-face with a super-thief; this story is about that encounter.

During the summer vacations an urge to taste luscious mangoes compelled me to pack my bags and go on a trip to my uncle's village. I reached the village a little late in the evening. When I stepped into the house I found the family was preparing to go out. The neighbouring village was hosting a play based on the Ramayana, and the whole family was going there to watch the play. They would return early next morning.

I was crestfallen. "Oh, my goodness!" I ejaculated, "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 left 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 don't inform of your visits beforehand, but appear suddenly. How was I to know you were coming today?"

Aunt tried to cheer me up. "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 uneaten, 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 won't be a surprise if thieves carry you away! Fix the latches well. Got it?"

"You don't have to remind me of that. I fear foxes more than thieves. Thieves carry away only valuable objects; they don't take away human beings. But I have heard that foxes carry away people, and your village is full of them!"

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

I did not allow him to complete the sentence. "Don't worry, I will latch the door from inside and they won't know of my presence," 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 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 begun weaving patterns, but the work was yet incomplete. I carefully picked up the sari and the ball of zari and put 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 latching the door from inside, I had even forgotten to pull down the mosquito net.

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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