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A quick tale 190

When you started eyeing her bags

Can you keep an eye on my bags while I nip to the loo?, she asks you as she squiggles her way across the crowded compartment. You have barely known each other for ten minutes. You helped her haul her luggage into the train compartment. She thanked you and then settled into her seat across from you. She asked you where you were headed and then confirmed that that was her destination as well. That's how far your acquaintance has been with this woman. And now she wants you to look after her bag. You've got that kind of a face. One that readily evokes trust in people. In the past you have been given house keys by your neighbours and been asked to water the plants or to feed the budgies while they were away on holiday. The plants always died and the budgies invariably 'eaten' by cats. And some odd trinket from here and there went missing. Which of course, no one really noticed.

The woman has been gone for less than a minute when you start surveying her bags. From where you are sitting, you can only see them partially. There are three bags in varying sizes. The large one is tucked way back under the seat and the two smaller ones sit flanked on either side. Your eye falls on the small red bag on the right. It looks promising. The bulge in the middle seems to suggest that it contains something of worth. Perhaps a gift. May be something electronic. You only have to pretend to drop something on the floor and grab the bag as you gather your stuff. It will be over in a blink and no one will suspect anything. The question then is, what will you do with it? You cannot jump out of a running train. But if you wait till the next station, you risk running into the owner. The down side to the plan is that there's every chance that the contents will turn out to be a dud. What if the bag contains besan ladoo or something? You'd have risked life and limb for flour balls.

While such conflicting thoughts criss-cross your mind, the lady returns from the loo. She thanks you for safe-guarding her possessions and proceeds to settle down in her seat. And that's when it hits you. It has nothing to do with trust. Your abject inability to carry out a simple theft could well have been tattooed on your face. Presently, she bends down, reaches for the red bag and asks you if you'd like something to eat. You politely refuse her offer and watch her as she opens the bag and bring out a box full of ladoos.

Comments

sakthin said…
very interesting and nice narration
Anonymous said…
love the story!
s said…
"You'd have risked life and limb for flour balls"....LOL

and look what it turned out to be...am reminded of the movie Arangetra velai, where prabhu works in one office (or tries to or some such thing) one man comes with a plate of laddoos..." saar ladduuuu"

nethi adi as always!
ahiri said…
paathinde iru !!:)
Bakwaas said…
hey very interesting short pieces, loved them...will check back...again.
Anonymous said…
rubbish
Anonymous said…
for once your short story produces a smile!
Shyam said…
phew! narrow escape, eh? :) Lovely as always, Ammani!
shub said…
hehe. I'm craving for besan laddoos now, and thinking it probably would've been worth stealing for!

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Bio-data

Married for 31 years, 2 months and 17 days
Six cups coffee a day, brewed everyday of marriage
Three meals a day,
At least two dishes cooked, each meal-time
One snack for every Sunday
Big basket of clothes ironed every Tuesday
Average 18 items of clothing washed per day
Three children
1 miscarriage
One mother-in-law suffered
900 sq metre of floor space mopped, once a day
One caesarean endured
3 chicken poxes, 2 measles, 2 fractures, 8 diarrhoeas, depression, conjunctivitis every summer, 1 tonsilitis and countless common colds and flues
1 job held for 29 years
6 hours slept every night
Sex tolerated every 2nd week
Religious rituals everyone of them, carried out
Not one of them, believed in
Lived 52 years and some
Died exhausted

Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”


http://jikku.blogspot.com/2005/02/quick-tale-3.html#c111042815438237631

The Saturday Poem

Found this in yesterday's paper. Again, I wish I'd written it.

-a

Now and Then

"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

But now and then I'd catch her
Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

And I would say to her
(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

And so, to make sure I'm in time
For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

-Sophie Hannah

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