My friend, let us call her Vasantha is an ebulient and cheerful lady, is married to an equally volatile Chakor (A bird that loves the moon, as does he. On Full moon days, he insists on being a vegetarian.)
Vasantha wanted to take some photographs of her yoga class and borrowed my camera for the purpose. The idea being that since mine was a simple aim-and-shoot camera, she will get some nice pictures and score some brownie points with her yoga guru.
She however is a creature of habit and normally keeps all her valuables in a handbag. Since the camera was borrowed, she decided to give it special care and kept it in her hand so that she does not lose it. She boarded the autorickshaw, our ubiquitous three wheeled cab and off she went to the class. Before I proceed further, let me show you what an autorickshaw is. The driver sits in the front and the back seat open on the sides can accommodate three average size Indians. There is a hat rack kind of shelf at the back where one can store baggage.
When she got off, she paid the driver the fare and obtained the change back from the driver and as per her habit, picked up her hand bag from the back rack and scooted off to the yoga class. When she reached the class and saw all the students in their best leotards, was when she discovered that she had left the camera in the autorickshaw. She charged down to see if she could locate it but alas, it had disappeared. Whether the driver or another fare took the camera or whether it fell off after the driver started the vehicle, is besides the point but the camera was gone for good.
You could not find a more distraught Vasantha. She excused herself from the yoga class and rushed back to my place to explain what had happened and to apologize. I took the loss in my stride and told her not to worry and suggested that she take my more modern newer camera and complete her assignment. She would have nothing to do with the idea and went off home.
After about fifteen minutes, she rang me up again to say how contrite she was and whether she could make good the loss by buying me a replacement. I told her to forget the matter as I had another camera anyway and the aim-and-shoot was just not worth the bother. She insisted that I accept something in return and I offered to settle scores soon. She eagerly asked how, and I told her that I would take Chakor for a coffee in an autorickshaw and manage to lose him somewhere.
Her peels of laughter are still ringing in my ears. She seems to have got over her guilt.
I had called the same Vasantha a few days ago to find out how she was. She has just been through an intensive treatment for cancer and was also having problems managing Chakor who is a diabetic and partially paralyzed following a few heart attacks. Both are well into their sixties.
When I asked her how she was, she started off by saying that she had just come out of the toilet after a bout of vomiting. I whistled and said, “Congratulations! Your grandchildren will be thrilled to have a new addition to the family.” Her laughter is still echoing in my ears. She however insists that I congratulate Chakor as otherwise he will be very upset. She has not yet shared the story with him and is waiting for me to do the honours.
Don’t you think that they are blessed to have me for a friend?