"..And let's look at the headlines this morning once again : the government has decided to raise the price of petrol by Rs.20 and that of.. "
Mr. Kantilal shut off the TV in disgust, wishing he could jump to his feet and stomp off on a protest on the street, as in the days of yore. Instead, he slowly stretched his feet, grabbed hold of his walking stick and crawled off the sofa.
“Where do they think the money is going to come from… do we all have trees shedding money in our backyards?.. when will they ever…”
Mrs. Kantilal tried to ignore the grumblings as long as she could. These days, there was no telling what could set him off.
“… hell with all the administration!... every time they find some or the other excuse to munch on my pension…”
Finally, when even the traffic on the road could not drown his voice, she came to the drawing room to find him shuffling up and down, muttering to himself (but loud enough to wake Moti downstairs, the poor animal.)
“What happened? Don’t get excited, you’ll only aggravate your knees.”
“How is one supposed to sit still? That’s what they want- that we sit in our chairs and quietly take whatever nonsense they dole out! But not me- I have to do something.. I will do something about it.. you just wait and see..”
He started limping towards their backyard, with the garage keys in his hand. Mrs. Kantilal was not worried- even if he started day-dreaming again, he could not open the big metal shutter. He would probably sit there till his temper cooled down.
“Madam, where do we keep our buckets?...”
Mrs. Kantilal sighed. Of course the painters had to come today, when the hubby was throwing a tantrum and she was the only one left to supervise.
“Yes.. you over there- don’t touch that corner until I tell… and these buckets need to be moved…”
The painters, like all thoroughly professional contractors, had a thousand requirements and a million questions. Mrs. Kantilal’s day was spent running around the house, attending to their queries about the colors and supervising their work. She hardly noticed the time till her daughter came home.
“Ma, I’m home!”
“Swati, don’t stand in the hall, go and change quickly… Mrs. Reddy brought some dhoklas today.. they are in the kitchen if you want, but I suggest you taste some before helping yourself..”
“Ma, where is dad? I don’t see him anywhere?..”
Mrs. Kantilal groaned. She had been blissfully ignorant for a few hours that there was a child in the house, who had again missed his 4.15 medicine dose.
“He’s there in the garage… must have fallen asleep… wait, let me come wake up the old man…”
As she was nearing the backyard door, she thought she heard someone neigh, like a horse. “Oh God! Has he started talking in his sleep again? I’ll have to ask Bhola to get some cotton wool for my ears…”
She opened the door and screamed. Swati came running, “What happened, ma? I thought I heard you- What’s this?!”
Mrs. Kantilal had not heard a horse neigh. It was a bleat. The bleating of two goats. Pristine white goats. Standing in their backyard, munching on the pride of her garden, the sweet peas.
“What in God’s name happened here? How did these two goats come into our house? Since when have you been sleeping? What’s with all this rope? And this… isn’t this Swati’s toy car? The one she rode when she was little? All these half-eaten carrots.. did the goats do this?? I wanted to make Gajar ka Halwa for Swati.. I told you your father is going senile… look at all this mess!”
Mr. Kantilal sat up blinking, looking thoroughly confused. He had been working on a prototype for a car that would not need any petrol… Yes, that was what he was doing… before he fell asleep… “Where’s the cart I had designed? And the automatically-driven engines? There were two of them, white in color… all they needed for fuel was carrots.. I don’t know where these goats came from!.. who took my engines?.. ”
I wrote this as an entry for the Fiat Indiblogger contest.