Dinesh and Bawa

Dinesh and Bawa


Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Mystery!

A rosogolla is a very goeey, drippy, sugary, yummy Indian bengali sweet... here is another gem from suparna... read on about the mystery of:


Suparna Chatterjee


My mother-in-law let out a scream that made all of us jump out of our skins.

I could instantly sense accusing eyes turn toward Sita di, their maid of twenty years, and then toward me, their bahu of a month and a half. On issues of credibility, there was no doubt who, between the two of us, would emerge a triumphant winner. A somewhat uneasy feeling ran through me.

“I was saving it for Babu,” my mother-in-law lamented.

This made matters worse. For in this house, anything meant for Babu (a name by which my mother-in-law often fondly called her dear son and my husband) was strictly off limits for the rest of the household.

My reputation was at serious stake here. I decided to probe a little, and some casual queries later, it was established and well accepted that I was nowhere in the vicinity of the aforesaid delicacy, and apparently Sita di, was not even in contention here. It was soon blamed upon my mother-in-law’s forgetful ways.

Over the next few days however, the inexplicable disappearance of a sweet here, and a roti there left all of us perplexed and eyeing each other with suspicion. Every time a new disappearance was announced, we would immediately narrow our eyes and steal furtive glances at one another, hoping to identify the culprit by the sudden change in his/her facial expression.

The alarming rate of disappearance prompted Sita di to keep a daily inventory of the number of sweets bought, eaten, and distributed. She even made a passing comment on how beautifully marriage had suited me, and how I looked ‘better nourished’ in my present home. I was not quite sure if it was a compliment or an insinuation, but given the circumstances, I was more inclined to think it was the latter.

Late one night, when the rest of the household was deep in slumber, I thought I heard a clamor in the kitchen.

“Amit, wake up,” I whispered anxiously. He didn’t make a sound. I always envied this about him. Me, I would be woken up by the sound of the wind, but he could sleep right through a Bon Jovi concert!

Putting aside for the time being thoughts about Jon Bon Jovi, I decided to investigate the matter at hand. My heart throbbed with excitement at the thought of discovering the thief (Ah, if only it was Sita di!). The sound got louder as I neared the kitchen, and then a sinister thought struck me. What if it really was a burglar?

“Who’s there?” I asked mustering as much courage as my inadequately geared nervous system would allow under the circumstance.

No answer.

“What’s that?” I repeated.

I was greeted with more silence.

Without further ado I headed to the kitchen and switched on the light, and in a flash, something grey and furry, whizzed past me and through the outlet of the drainage pipe into the darkness outside.

Meanwhile, all my attempts to exchange pleasantries with the supposed intruder had woken up my in laws. Now seeing me in the kitchen in the dead of the night, my mother-in-law let out a gasp which had “i-knew-it-was-you-bahu” written all over it.

“IT’S A MOUSE! IT’S A MOUSE!” I blurted, before matters got dangerously out of hand.

With this new revelation, the very next day my father-in-law launched “MOHPES” or the Mouse and Other Household Pests Elimination Strategy. Some of us were pronouncing it as a bi-syllabic ‘moh-pes’, when we were promptly corrected. The sound was similar to ‘mopes’. The H was silent.

Markets were surveyed and the very latest in mouse traps were bought. They were placed in strategic locations with a ball of flour inside to attract the rodent. We all went to bed that night feeling a sense of relief at the thought of having finally solved the mystery.

Early next morning, our relief turned to sheer joy as we stared into the eyes of the grey furball sitting inside, looking at us with expectant eyes as if to say, “What’s for breakfast?” Sita di, promptly decided to take care of it, and the rest of us got on with our daily lives.

A couple of days later the disappearances started again.

Upon questioning Sita di, it was revealed that, she had taken the mouse to a nearby dumping yard, and had set it free. For to kill a mouse was to foolishly invite the irreversible curse of the Lord Ganesh, and she for one was not ready to have a dead mouse upon her conscience.

That night the trap was set up again, but the initial success story was not repeated.

My infuriated father-in-law and my exasperated mother-in-law launched Stage Two of MOHPES. Mousetrap plus Bholu. The neighborhood feline, which had hitherto been shunned and shooed, and who was guarded from the daily arrivals of fresh fish and packets of Mother Dairy milk, was now shown uncharacteristic warmth and generosity, which Bholu eyed with as much suspicion as the rodent had eyed the flour ball. The end result was that we (all of us except Babu) parted with a fair share of our daily quota of fried fish and milk, but Bholu being assured of a free meal on a regular basis, did not have the inclination to chase a mouse round the block just for the exercise.

It was time for Stage Three. My father-in-law was now a man with a vengeance. A recent survey of his closet had revealed gnaw marks in several of his belongings. Important documents had tethered crescent tears in their corners. But what made matters worse was, when early one morning he was getting ready for his walk, he put on an old pair of sneakers and promptly discovered what the rodent had been using for its toilet lately.

That did it! There was only so much Retd. Col. Proshanto Banerjee of the Barrackpore Cantonment was going to take!

MAN VS. BEAST (err…pest).

Having no faith in the readily available pest repellants, he decided to manufacture his own. I’m not quite sure what exactly went into it, but I think charcoal and dried cow dung patties formed a large percentage of the product composition.

The concoction produced a stench revolting enough to drive the entire neighborhood away, leave alone the enemies of MOHPES. The smell and the fumes made me frequently nauseas and giddy, which I soon learnt was a deadly combination, if you are a newly wed, especially at your in-laws’. My mother-in-law, whenever she dared to risk permanent lung damage, removed the perfumed handkerchief from her nostrils and inquired about the possibility of “good news” in the near future. I had to give her credit! For in spite of the obnoxious stench now omnipresent in the house, she would even force a facial contortion equivalent to a smile, when the prospect of a future grandchild presented itself.

I was well on my way to another throw-up when my father-in-law spotted the culprit scurrying along the wall. “QUICK EVERYBODY”, he shouted. “AMIT, GET THE DOOR. SITA , THE MOUSETRAP. ASHIMA , THE GARDEN RAKE. I‘M GETTING MY REVOLVER. EVERYBODY READY”.

The next few minutes were a blurred super-fast sequence of actions straight out of a Charlie Chaplin movie. My in-laws and Sita di were running in circles in a desperate effort to arrest the rodent. My mother-in-law kept banging the rake hard on the floor hoping to hit the mouse. Instead she hit my father-in-law in the foot.


The series of conflicting commands left my mother-in-law perplexed and paralyzed, not knowing which way to move. Amidst this pandemonium, I got nauseous again, and my mother-in-law deciding that neither mouse nor foot was more important than an heir, came running towards me with open arms, to be the first one to congratulate.

I HAD HAD ENOUGH! THIS HAD HAD TO STOP! I located Amit standing guard on the doorway and tried to give him a scornful look. The fumes were making me giddy. I caught Amit’s attention, but am not quite certain I managed the look I was going for. For Amit looked at me quizzically for a few seconds, turned to his mom and said, “I feel like having alu paratha today”.

“With scrambled eggs,” he added as an afterthought.

I passed out soon after, and upon recovering my consciousness, was informed by a beaming trio, that the mouse had indeed been caught and ‘taken care of’.

Well, that settled, we breathed a huge sigh of relief.

A couple of weeks later when the entire household was deep in sleep, the familiar clamor of stainless steel woke me up again. Who was it now? I wondered in my sleep.
I put on my slippers and groggily limped my way to the kitchen to shoo away another rodent.

“Amit? What are you doing here?” I asked pleasantly surprised. “Did you hear the noises too?”

Amit stood there, silently chewing a rosogolla for several long seconds. He then replied, “Go back to sleep…I drove the mouse away.”

You can write to Suparna and bug her to write more of these... her email id is sue195chat@yahoo.com  

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Anonymous said...

eeee nice story !!

Jai Gurudev!

Anonymous said...

Another good one!
The rat menace was very well described :-)


atmarati avirodhena said...

soo funny :) the pandemonium stuff sounds so much like the Mr Goon fiascos in EB books ..
im definitey going to ask her for more :) :)

gauri said...

cute little small mystery which caught me till the last sentence. touching email to mystery roshogulla.....sue a comedy one is much awaited of....

Amarja said...

such a vivid description of absolute confusion! :) had a hearty laugh, thanks for sharing this bau. will keep an eye out for more from her. oh yes, the email's on the way!

Monica Tiwari said...

too good!!

Richa said...

wow... beautifully written, gripping till the last sentence...

priyank said...

great story bau

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