Something quite unusual happened last morning. An alarmed neighbour posted on the whatsapp group that someone had made away with one packet of milk, from the three that the milkman had delivered at her doorstep. This was the second time that it had happened. Soon, another concerned neighbour shared a similar, earlier experience. Someone was stealing his/her quota of calcium, protein and other dairy nutrients and leaving no traces behind. No trail of white drops nor the spotting of a visage with a creamy moustache in a nook or corner or in the lift.
There was much speculation about whether the vendor had shortchanged our neighbour. But, most of us wondered why he would axe his long-term prospects of regular supply so foolishly. A phone call to the vendor affirmed that he had delivered the regular number of packets, and the theft had occurred in the hour between the time of the delivery and the pick-up from the bag placed for the milk packet, outside the door, by the neighbour. Strange, considering our building is quite a safe haven. Kids leave their cricket bats, skateboards, basketballs, badminton racquets and even shoes behind in the compound after playing, and find them in exactly the same spot the next day. Wayward clothes swaying on clothes lines dive down, landing flat on their stomachs, and are left undisturbed for days, untouched by human hands, albeit a bit ruffled by the breeze, till the owner locates and claims them.
So, this theft was quite unexpected, and inexplicable. The suspicion now fell on the hapless delivery boy. Maybe, unknown to the vendor, he was out to make a quick buck, by delivering one packet less and insisting that he had delivered three. Considering that every apartment has a video door camera, whosoever was on the prowl, was either braving being caught on it or unaware of its eyes trained on him/her. Finally, a generous neighbour averred that at least someone was drinking the milk, which prompted smileys from all quarters to flood the chat window. The thief was forgiven, and everyone decided that it was better to instruct the delivery boy to ring the bell, and personally receive the packets of milk, to avoid such untoward incidents in future, and the speculation that followed them.
Now, I have no idea if the milk was cow’s milk or buffalo’s milk. If it was the former, the episode might just take on a political or religious flavour. Lord Krishna, lovingly referred to as maakhanchor, stole butter from neighbouring houses. If at all someone reprimanded him, it was with great affection, and mock anger. Mostly, the women fawned over him for his mischief. With most households buying their quota of salted butter from the local supermarket, and with the process of preparing butter at home becoming almost extinct, the closest a Krishna bhakt can come to emulating the Lord is by stealing milk. And if it comes from a cow, it has extra divine nutritive benefits too. Despite this shining example from our mythological texts, I doubt that if caught, the milk thief will be showered with such unconditional love. He/she is more likely to be left with deep impressions on the back, made by the repeated contact of a rolling-pin with the spine. Milk thieving can be backbreaking.
As I write this, the thief remains elusive. His/her chances have been nixed by the new arrangement of the delivery boy ringing the doorbell to hand over the much coveted milk packets. On an otherwise predictable day, the theft had caused some ripples and much amusement. Much ado about missing milk. The mystery remains.
Today’s quote: “I always know the ending. That’s where I start.” TONI MORRISON
Today, the moon had overstayed. It is in its third quarter. So, there was the sun on my right, and the moon on my left, facing each other. What unfinished business did the moon have to attend to?
Read a sample chapter of Hisham Matar’s book, ‘The Return’. How does anyone cope when separated from a loved one by cruel circumstances? How does one breathe, eat, function, laugh or simply live, knowing that somewhere a loved one is being tortured or is in the throes of pain, held captive in a land which was his own? How does one deal with no closure? This is the book I’ll read next.
It’s the season of the Indian gooseberry: Amla. Pickle or sabzi? Maybe the latter. It’s crazy how just the mention of this sour, astringent, sweet, bitter and pungent fruit, makes the salivary glands go into overdrive :).