This article has been submitted by Devarchan B for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below
It doesn’t matter if you are stealing or saving the world; the more you want it, the easier it gets.
My kitchen window, like most kitchen windows in my part of the world, opens up to honking cars, dense smoke and concrete. But come late summer if the attention of your wandering eyes is not immediately captured by that little mango tree with dollops of red and gold swaying to the occasional breeze like a classical symphony; you’re a prosaic at heart.
The mangoes on this tree were of a variety that is known locally as ‘Gulab/Golap Khaas’, which translates loosely into ‘the special rose’. Now most people will tell you how that although this is a fine class of fruity goodness, it doesn’t quite match up to the humble langda, the popular himsagar or the frankly overrated Alphonso. Now to put it very mildly, and this is as mildly as I can put it, this is a load of cr**.The fault however is not just in their taste buds. The thing is ‘the special rose’ can be a very elusive mistress. Unlike her brethren, enjoying her is an art and timing is crucial. Be late by even a day and she turns into orange mush, fuming with petulant rage at having been kept waiting. Be foolish enough to arrive early and you are treated to a curt sourness that anybody who has ever tried to get a lady to hurry up would be all too familiar with. But be on time, and you are treated to singular experience, an almost heavenly alliance of sight, taste and smell. Especially the smell, a light aroma that would waft down your nostrils and take you to that simpler place.
I knew it was time. I knew, because I could smell it.
It’s incredible how remarkably easy it is to convince yourself of almost anything.
Remember that time the night before the exam, when you started to watch the stupid Jackie Chan film because it would help you stay awake for the night, or when you ate the whole box of sweets because they wouldn’t be as fresh tomorrow? As stupid as these things seem now, I bet when you did them, they didn’t seem all that bad. It’s as if somehow for a few moments in the courtroom of your mind, the judge takes a nap and the lamest arguments seem to make perfect sense.
I reasoned that the neighbour had to be taught a lesson. The man thought the tree was his teen-aged daughter, and every lecherous stare that came by her direction, would offend the very core of his existence. And if some foolhardy teenage boy, high on moxie, would dare to pluck a fruit, the old man would thunder like ‘samay’ from Mahabharat, albeit with more colorful language, and while the poor kid dealt with the forecast of his impending annihilation, he would have to face his veteran adversary’s better half, still capable of admirable mobility, and who armed with a broomstick would chase after him till the ends of the earth.
Planning and execution
This is a joy that every daydreamer would understand. Every man who likes little sojourns away from reality to worlds that don’t have to make sense .
Now, I had to figure out a way of getting a mango without leaving the safety of my own home. Also, it goes without saying, I had to make sure there were no witnesses. I was pretty sure dadu dearest would make living in my house a practical impossibility if he was to ever find out.
The task was an engineering challenge:- I needed to make something that allowed me to remotely pick a mango with minimum fuss. After making half a dozen plans which ranged from a mini flame thrower, to a guided catapult. I finally settled on the simplest device on the list which basically consisted of a pair of scissors attached to the end of a stick, to be operated by a system of ropes. Now, the trouble was that this, like most flights of fancy, is easier thought than said than done. Finally a lot of rope, some used head phones and measuring tape, later I was done with it. Almost immediately however, I realized that although the scissor system could close shut easily, it was incredibly difficult to open it with the ropes which meant I had to reel the whole thing back in, costing me a lot of precious time. Being the noisier part of the exercise this was also likely to attract attention. I decided in the end to replace the scissors with a more primitive cutting device, a kitchen knife.
Now I had to wait for an opportune time. Luckily, ‘bangali dupure ghum’ on a Saturday afternoon, is something you can invariably bank on.
At 3 pm I was to do my terrible deed, from a window in the apartment staircase. This was done to make sure that if I was seen, they couldn’t be sure it was me.
I made two surveillance trips to make sure the coast was clear and checked the joints on my device.
A few dhinchak rock songs later. I was good to go.
The part where you shut the f*** up and get to work.
So there I was, armed with a 12 feet pole with a knife and a plastic bag at its end. Looking at my prize. Gold and red with curves that would put Christina Hendricks to shame. From here on,the crime would commit itself.
All this while clouds had gathered, softening the sun down to a cinematic hue. Then, through a gap in the railing, I slid in my mechanical marvel. I don’t remember thinking much for a while, something was taking over. I was surrendering to a primal urge, one which had made us the most successful species on the planet. The next clear memory I have is that of the sound of the harsh rustling of a plastic bag. I shivered with ecstasy. This was it. The mango was inside, albeit a little precariously. Gently, like an inexperienced dad with his newborn or a high school girl with her first chemistry set. I started to reel her in.
What separates the perfect criminal from well, the criminal?
It seems to me, that one of the unspoken rules of the universe is that an enterprise will not amount to much, unless at some point in it you are scared shitless.
There I was, reeling her in and feeling good about myself. No witnesses, no fingerprints and since I was to dismantle my mechanical marvel, no weapon either. I had, after all, pulled it off. I should have known better. The god above has no respect for such perfection. Like the shallow Bollywood audiences he demands spice, and his spice is chaos.
Of all the ways of scaring somebody I would think a screeching door would be really low on the list , yet on that cloudy summer afternoon that’s precisely what happened and as if on cue, my knees started wobbling and i was no longer sure I was on solid ground. My hands took a life of their own.My stomach made funny bubbly noises. It was as if my whole body wanted to run away and I was forcing it to do otherwise and while I struggled desperately to suppress this primordial rebellion, I looked around to find the source of the noise. All the doors at the victim’s house were closed. I looked behind me to see if it was someone from my apartment. Here too every door seemed innocent.I reasoned it must have been someone from the higher floors. In any case, I could not dawdle. In about thirty more seconds, stretched to way more than that by the wanton brutality of time,I held it in my hands. A perfectly ripe ‘Golap khaas’ that smelt better than any rose. My prize in red and gold.
This is once you are in a safe place.
For a while I jumped around like a crazy kangaroo with its tail on fire.For a much longer time loud upbeat background music played in my head punctuated occasionally by scattered thoughts of ‘I really should stop watching crime shows’ or ‘there is no way i am passing on Monday’.Desperate attempts by reality to reclaim a hold it had lost long ago.
Step 6 (BONUS),
Practise evil laugh. Then Gloat.
There is no point to a perfect crime if you can’t tell people how perfect it is.