Here’s the story. I was goofing around the net after an exhausting morning cycling trip with harsha, mano and choodi. Suddenly the door bell rang. A few seconds later, while I was still deciding whether to answer it or not, it rang again. This time it was followed by a hard knock on the door. “Oh what trouble!” I went to answer the call. When I was opening the door, the first sentence happened. Except that the diary was held by a hand.
It took me a while to understand what just happened. The door getting opened, the diary showingup near my face and the voice which conveyed precious little meaning happened so fastthat I stood there staring at the diary for a few minutes [ or was it seconds?]. Then I looked up to find the owner of the hand.
There were two of them — a thin-old fellow and our owner-of-the-hand — provided that we already know the diary.
Owner-of-the-hand was keeping the diary between the doors to prevent me from closing it. That made me a little uncomfortable. Then he spoke “*** *** **** , **************** , *** …” a lot of stuff in Kannada. Suddenly he stopped, gave a little push to the diary and looked at me expectantly. I blurted out, “Kannada gothilla” – the only thing I knew in Kannada. “Tumhare khushi. Kutch bhi likh do. Mandir mein khana milega.” Oh! I took a good look at the opened diary. It had rows and rows of names and across each name was listed the contribution they made. So he expected me to donate money.
“No”, I heard myself saying. Silence. He started talking after giving me a stern look, “kuch bhi likh do. Sou, fifty, dus. Kutch bhi”. He thrust the diary again at me. The way he looked at me when I said no, freaked me out. It seemed to mean, “Just give me the money. It’s enough that I’m asking. Come on spill out.” Since the diary was still stuck between the doors I couldn’t close it. I was getting really nervous.
I took a deep breath and said, “I said no. It means no.” For a fleeting second I thought he would fling the diary at my face. But no, he hissed something between his teeth, turned around and climbed down the doors.
I slammed the door close.
Then it suddenly occurred to me. Was the thin-old man smiling at me when I said “no”?