As brothers, Manoo
and I shared our boyhood years together in Mangalore. And with it
many an experience, most often joyful and sometimes not so; rarely
knowing which way the tide ran.
A favorite pastime
even before we went to school was to expectantly hang around the
chickencoop, betting on our respective hens, as to which particular
one would lay her egg first. This wasn't really as complicated as
it may sound. At crack of dawn when mother opened the coop to let
the chickens out to graze, - to catch the early morning worm as
they say, - we watched her carefully as she blocked the trap and
picked up each hen, only to let free some and put back others. To
be freed later, after they announced loudly the relieving of their
We never questioned
mother's mysterious powers to know exactly which ones were laden
with eggs. Satisfied, we were, as long as there were some to bet
upon, experience having told us that all those imprisoned within,
are sure to lay. So, amidst our other pre-occupations never for
a moment did we let out main concentration stray from the chicken
Not always was our
fun as innocent as the one associated with collecting eggs. Especially,
when we decided to raid the larder. By this time, we were a few
years older. As I recall, everything that we then considered best
in the world was inside that larder -- from Christmas goodies to
exptic fruits that father never failed to bring home from his frequent
and regular trips over the week. All locked up.
For this major operation,
we had to enlist the help of Meera, our little sister, who by this
time had happened on the scene. Her one ambition then was always
to better her brothers in whatever we did. But having made her appearance
two years after Manoo, she was then at a little disadvantage and
had to be convinced to take on a lesser role and be a mere sentinel
So it was Meera who
kept watch on occasions when mother stepped out of the house, to
forewarn us of impending danger of discovery, while with meticulous
military precision, we the brothers executed what seemed then, a
colcolessal operation for gaining entry into the larder.
First of all, the
dining table had to be dragged to the wall that separated the store
from the dining room, then the help of the chair to get on to the
table. From the table to the wall, then, using the wall-cupboard
shelves as rungs of a ladder, scrambling up the wall bit by bit,
propped up Manoo who at times had to collapse on to his bended knees
to invoke the heavens to protect us from discovery, or that his
brother may not suddenly slip and break his head.
Then to the top of
the wall, to slip through that niche separating it from the roof
and thereafter, it was easy. For the rice 'Murrahs' stacked on the
other side acted as a veritable staircase that always led me easily
to the treasure trove.
It was years later
that Manoo and I met recently during Mother's diamond jubilee celebrations
when be returned to the country of his birth for a brief spell.
Reminiscing on food memories of those lovely childhood days, we
told mother of our exploits of yesteryears that had gone unnoticed
She surprised us
though, when we could not convince her of the same or shake her
stated belief that her own children couldn't ever have done such
ghastly deeds. She is quite firm in her opinion that these episodes
are but mere figments of our long cherished and fertile imagination.
We wonder though!
For as we now recall, on every one of those occasions of Larder
raids, mother had, soon after, and invariably, showered on us those
very goodies in quantities even our greedy little mouth's could
It is our imagination,
…. Or had mother always known?
Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can
interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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