ON RETURN FROM SCHOOL
PRADIP KUMAR BISWAS
( This is one of my sweet memory of boyhood days narrated in a story form. The actual names of the characters are changed)
Unlike others, they come back home from school not in the crowded school bus but through a shortcut and reach township only little later than the Bus.
The journey on foot is more exciting to them and provided more pleasures and mischief. Today is one such day.
The four boys are Shyam, Nitya, Deva and Kartik. They yell and shout so much that people crossing them and living in the houses falling on their path know their names.
Right now, they are crossing a lane. A big garden-house, surrounded by barbed walls and a long front gate is on that lane. The house-owner visits frequently from the adjoining town .A caretaker, whose eyes are always red as an after-effect of drinking “Bhaang”, looks after the house. His afternoon siesta hours coincide with the return timings of these boys.
The gangue of four now looked at the empty guava trees and sighed so high that few leaves from the tree fell to the ground.
Deva said” Only yesterday this tree, near the boundary, was full with guavas. We only picked up just six of them”
Nitya said angrily ” That toothless ‘Maali’ ( Gardener)must have sold all the guavas to buy ‘Bhang ‘for his siesta”
Shyam and Kartik now angrily threw few stones, which failed to break his sleep but his new “desi” dog barked loudly and came near the big long gate.
The closed tall gate assured them all the protection and they made some ill postures making the dog to bark more loudly. That was sufficient to disturb the intoxicated afternoon siesta of the gardener cum watchman.
He came limping near the gate giving the boys time enough to hide near the other sides of the wall. Finding none, the dormant “Vesuvius” in him became active through his mouth venting out the filthiest possible swears in Hindi. The boys enjoyed the violent reactions of him from their hideout. The watchman and his dog disappeared.
Nitya said “One of you take out your color pencil box. I have an idea. I read a notice of the house owner at the front wall just near the gate. That needs to be amended.” The notice was written with deep orange color in bold captions.
” TO LET .
Nitya took out a matching color pencil and filled the gap between To and Let with an appropriate Vowel. After reading the ‘corrected’ version of the notice, they laughed loudly and left quickly.
Near the adjoining crossing, Shyam said ” Stop here for a moment. Look, Satya and his group have just arrived. This notice was hanging in the gate yesterday, nobody read. Now see they are looking at the empty trees and reading the notice ( the notice now read as TOILET….)”
“Aare Deva! Look, Satya and party took the notice seriously and they are performing an appropriate action.”
They were sure of future recurrence of this activity by the next team arriving shortly. Who knows even elders passing this garden house may also join? Why should the ‘Malli’ fellow eat these guavas all alone? Let him smell the stink also.
They are now entering the township. Before dispersing to respective houses Shyam and Nitya sat on a twin seat at the Bus stand as if just like all other ‘good boys’ they also just came down from the Bus and taking a rest.
Shyam was looking minutely at the garden of one residential Quarter. Few corns are hanging down the fence. “The uncle- auntie of that house left for a walk. Nitya, these corns should not go waste. Let us pick them. The gardeners in the park have now put fire on the garbage. That is the best place to roast them. Who wants those Maggie’s every day?”
The boys picked a good number of Corns. They peeled the green leaves of corns and threw the green leaves deliberately just near the gate. Uncle and Auntie after their return from their walk may make loud ” Hai- hai” and they may enjoy the same from the Park.
The uncle and auntie of that house instead of entering the house changed their mind. Frustrating the boys, the couple decided to take a rest in the park. The boys sat under a tree and opened their school bags. They posed as very sincere students who started their home works before entering their house. They have to wait for the couple to leave the park and approach near their residence to discover the missing corns. Auntie has a shrill voice. It is a worthwhile waiting to enjoy the “Hai- hai” performance coming out of her large open mouth.
Shyam said ” do you know the simile.. for Kitchen?”
Deva Said “Pantry”
” Are you sure Deva? Mam shall beat us if it is wrong.”
” I am sure. That is the place where Moms of every House tries some thing on Pans.”
” Most of which are boring like Maggie’s?”
” I do not Know my friend.”