When My Neighbor Returned Home…


Part 5

What is reported from here on, it is only heard-say – voices floating to me as I got onto the bed.

‘Sorry, Maha, Divi, I know it’s a little late for you.’

‘No problems, Raji. Tell us what’s the matter?’

‘Divi, have you opened the ‘Yoja’ bottle that I brought for you this afternoon?’

Oh, it was the dashed bottle again.

‘No, Aunty, not yet.’

Divi covered it up neat not missing a beat, considering, until a couple of hours ago, the bottle was not even in the house!


What could be splendid about not opening a bottle? Was a malevolent genie trapped inside? Did some disgruntled employee fill up the batch with arcane African poison? Or, was it the crucial piece of evidence in some gruesome crime of passion? Raji didn’t let these questions whirrr in my head for long.

‘Let me explain. Well, Arun knows what you like. He brought the Jasmine for you and the Lavender for his boss’s wife. She seems to have asked for it. I got it all mixed up – brought out the Lavender to you. Just now when Arun was sorting out the gifts he had brought for his office colleagues he couldn’t find the Lavender. I realized I had goofed. I told him I’ll check up with you right away and you wouldn’t mind. Could we switch the Lavender with the Jasmine of your choice? Here it is. I’m sorry about all this.’

‘No problems at all, Aunty. Luckily I haven’t opened it yet. It’s so sweet of Uncle to have remembered my preferences. Just give me a minute. I’ll get it for you.

Further proceedings were lost for chronicling as I was, for a little while, head up in the cloud of self-congratulation, not withstanding that blighter Sharma’s swindle on my purse. Some embarrassment it would have been – if the truth came out, we couldn’t have looked Arun or Raji in their eyes. Speaking for myself, I would’ve been compelled to sneak up and down by the staircase – they always took the lift.

Just then, a freaky thought entered my mind: Like they say ‘Dhane Dhane pe likha hain khanewale ka naam’ (It roughly meant every grain of food carries the address of a tummy), I suspected these dashed gifts too have a way of reaching to their preordained beneficiaries, no matter the number of stops en route. The Lavender bottle was perhaps the protagonist doing just that with a bit of drama on the way and roles for us to play…

Before I got carried too far away with my anthromorphizing the bottle, the front-door closed shut sounding Raji’s departure bringing me back to the terra firma. Lying on the bed, the flesh wasn’t willing to follow the spirit – after all, quite a day it had been – to go on stage and take a bow to a clamoring crowd that wasn’t. In fact, it was quiet out in the hall – voices had ceased.

Before the tongues unfurled – I can’t say if they did – I was gone for the night on the comforting thought: Arun wasn’t likely to go overseas for another quarter – Raji had mentioned it in passing; and making a mental note for myself to look for some other birth-day gift for Sheba, my boss’s secretary!

Of course, I was kidding!



7 Responses to When My Neighbor Returned Home…

  1. Mohan says:

    Quite detailed and vivid. can try a hand at script writing


  2. Sanjay says:

    I was blown away. I could use modern terminology to describe it – such as excellent, mind-blowing, fantastic, etc – but that doesn’t mean anything.

    Two things that stood out were the freshness of the piece and the simple humor. Took me back to the days when we read R.K.Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand. A third thing that stood out was the command over language, the curious twists of phrases, uses of similes and metaphors, and a thread of mischief throughout the piece.

    Please write more, and more frequently, and soon we’ll get to see a book of memoirs or anecdotes.


  3. Kannan says:

    Very pleasant reading. As I have said before, your writing reminds me of Kalki’s short stories. Real life situations, keen observations on human nature, nice comparisons (eg., reference to Deep blue, what is the literary word for this type of comparisons, metaphors, simile?) and no effort to pass on a message though something lurkes around.
    Last week we saw several movies screened in IITG as part of a Film festival in city. Same characteristics. Only difference is that most of the situations are tragic ones and left at that. Being a powerful media, one feels that the director, atleast, at the end would deviate from reality and end on a optimistic note. This would bring more people to the alternative cinema, as people like to see happy endings, get exposed to reality and not go back feeling helpless.
    You may have he same problem of selective readers. Though your usage of English is very good, it is alien, even now, to the Indian scene. Kalki’s writings struck a chord as one identified with the language.


    • tskraghu says:

      I agree with ur observation on the scope for simplifying the language. Will keep it in mind, going forward.

      Thanks for the input, Kannan.


  4. chitra says:

    As usual enjoyed your “5 part episode”. It reminded me of RKN-its the simplicity in the “plot” -taking the mundane day to day events to a different plane -having the ability to laugh at ourselves and others around without feelings of rancour.
    Like your reference to P.G Wodehouse. Miss that era when English literature was literature with its subtlety and finesse which brings forth a good chuckle. Thank you!!!


  5. tskraghu says:

    With movies and serials packing more twists than a mountain road, I said why not take a look closer to our lives and ramble about it? There’s humor if we look for it, though not the rib-tickling kind or with laugh-track.

    Thanks for the inputs, Chitra.


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