“Phulwa I am coming too,” urged Misry.
“No. We are not taking you along. You don’t know climbing trees.” The elder girl snubbed. She was two years elder to Bheeru and the captain of their small team. All the children for some reasons believed in her leadership. And she had never failed them too.
This time they were on a mission. They had to pluck Amiya for pickles from the landlord’s mango grove. The mission was dangerous because the landlord had hired two new Chowkidar to take care of the grove. So the kids didn’t want to take any chance. Moreover Misry was the youngest of all. There were total eight kids including Bheeru and Phulwa and all were two or more years older than Misry.
“But I can run. And I run faster than all of you guys together.” Misry reminded the Captain.
Phulawa sat down to think of the option. It was true. None of them could catch up with Misry while she raced. She was another “Flying Sikh” for that matter.
“Okay. You can come along. But no climbing trees okay. And you will run when I say so. Okay?”
The grove was on the other side of the village near the river. It had both mango and litchi trees in abundance. The kids entered the open grove and looked for the Chowkidar. They found only one of them on duty that day. He was a middle aged man with a big pot belly. They found him sleeping peacefully on a cot, near the machan, after having his lunch.
The kids knew well that after lunch was the best time to invade as sleep over powers most of the people. They quickly distributed themselves in smaller groups of two or three children and started working. One kid would climb up the tree and pluck the Amiyas while the other stood under the tree picking up the fruits in a gamcha.
If any of them caught sight of the Chowkidar, he would whistle and alert the others.
Misry was teamed up with Phulwa and another village kid. Phulwa was up on the tree and the two stood beneath to pick the Amiyas from the ground. They were hurrying up least the Chowkidar woke up.
While picking up the Amiyas, Misry noticed two big baskets full of litchis on the machan. The machan was not on a very big height and the Chokidar slept just beside it. Since she could not climb the mango tree, she thought of contributing to the team with litchis from the basket.
She tiptoed there when the others were busy and climbed up the bamboo ladder placed near the machan. It creaked a little under her weight. She quickly glanced down and saw the Chowkidar sleeping peacefully. She sighed and toppled up over the machan. Right in front of her were two big baskets full of ripe mangoes and litchis.
By now the others in the team had already seen what she was up to and were signaling her to come back. But Misry wanted to be a part of the gang and bridge the gap that existed because of her failure to climb trees.
Others had already started climbing down the trees and ready to flee least something worse happens.
Misry picked up one ripe mango from the basket and showed it to them. Then very carefully she threw it at them. One of the kids took the catch. She did the same again and then again. The kids got interested and assembled near the machan.
Their footsteps on the dry leaves woke up the Chokidar and he got up on his feet with a jump. He was startled to see the bunch of kids stealing the mangoes. He cussed and looked for his cane to thrash them.
“Run Messy!” Phulwa shouted and all the kids grabbed whatever little they could lay their hands upon before running for their life.
Messy was the only one held up on the machan. The Chowkidar hadn’t noticed her yet and was running after the kids. Messy tried to climb down as quickly as possible. The ladder gave away and she lost her balance.
She tried grabbing the shaft and fell down with the machan on the ground with a thud.
The Chowkidar turned back and saw the basket of mangoes and litchis toppled over. The fruits were rolled down on the ground and the kids were quick enough to come back and pick them up.
“I am not going to leave any of you. Wait and see what I do,” The Chowkidar ran towards Misry with his cane.
She was still sitting on the ground after her fall. Phulwa was quick enough to pull her up and drag her along before the Chowkidar reached. And along ran all the kids shouting on top of their voice.
They were all panting by the time they came out of the grove. Everybody was looking at Misry for this episode.
“What? I didn’t do anything.” Misry appealed.
Together they shouted, “GROW UP MESSY!”
Glossary* Amiya- small unripe mango Chowkidar- guard
Gamcha- traditional cotton towel found in India and Bangladesh
Machan- a platform erected in a tree for watch
This is #day6 of the AtoZblogging Challenge throughout April.
26 stories in 26 days. I am attempting very very short stories series with GROW UP MESSY – The sweet sour story of a 5 year old girl. Follow my blog for the next story of Messy.
You can read the other post in the series here