“Eat it, Sona.” Dida said lovingly to Misry.
Her favorite Maach Bhat lay untouched on her plate while her cousins were licking their fingers and almost done.
“What happened, dear?”Dida asked looking at her still full plate.
“I eat only Ma’s hand cooked food, Dida.” Misry replied.
“Oh! Is it! But I am your mother’s mother. I taught her cooking. You can tell me what you want and I can cook that for you. You will find no difference in our cooked food, sweet heart. ” Dida assured her.
“I don’t eat spicy food.” Misry replied.
“Oh Okay! I will give you something special then.” She disappeared inside the house and returned with a small aluminum can. She opened the lid and served two spoonfuls to Misry.
Misry licked a little. It was awesome. She had never tasted it before.
“Hmmm. Very tasty Dida. Can I have some more?” She asked grinning.
The old lady served her two more spoonfuls and said, “Enjoying?”
“Never before Dida. What is it?” She asked still licking her fingers.
“It is Morcya Gur, from Bangladesh.” Dida said.
Just then Madhavi entered the kitchen. “But Ma, how come it is available here?”she asked.
“One of your Baba’s students got it from there. Nice chap.”
“My God Ma. It is still so tasty. I can never forget its taste. Bad that it is not available anywhere else in the country. ”
“You know what. The chap also owns a sweet shop here in the market. Sometimes this variety of Date plam gur is available there. Though it doesnot last more than few hours. Since this variety of Date plam jaggery is not available anywhere in India, so the guy is very particular about whom he sells it to.”
By the time their conversation ended Misry had already finished her meal. Her plate was clean as if unused.
The ladies laughed.
Later in the afternoon
Madhavi had fallen asleep but Misry didn’t like taking afternoon nap. She tiptoed out from her room and headed straight for the store room in the corner of the house. The room had a small temple and was the ware house of utensils, stored food grains and other food items.
Misry tiptoed inside looking for the aluminum can containing jaggery. She didn’t have to search much. There, right near the shelf, it hanged in a nylon bag. Misry ensured that no one was watching her. Then she tried to take out the can from the bag but it was at a little height and her hands didn’t reach it.
She pulled an iron bucket, used to draw water from the well, and turned it upside down very carefully so that she made no noise. Then she climbed over it and inserted her hand in the bag to take out the can.
Very carefully she opened the lid without making any noise. Her nostrils drew in the aroma with her eyes closed. When she reopened her eyes, right in front of her was one of the dogs wagging its tail. As if it was asking for a share in the theft to keep its mouth shut.
Misry understood that it meant business so she didn’t take any chance. She dropped few drops of the jaggery on the floor and she herself licked her fingers full.
Once, twice, thrice.
Done for the day.
She replaced everything in place and was happy that she was not caught. She went out of the room unnoticed.
Over the week, this had turned out to be regular attempt and the only witness to her crime was the dog who made sure he too got the share unless Misry didn’t want others to know about it. Over the days the theft was not restricted to jaggery alone. She had discovered lot more in the room specially sweets. On occasion of Pallavi Mashi’s marriage, there were lots of sweets stored for the guests. One of them was the Nolen gurer sandesh. Misry didn’t hesitate to clean her hands on that too. Over the time she was confident that she won’t be caught with so many people in the house but she forgot that the depleting quantity of the item will automatically raise brows.
In no time her theft was discovered by Dida. It was not difficult for her to figure out who the thief was. Adults could not do it and the children never did it before. So that points out to Misry alone as she was the only child visiting them after so many years. But the lady was fair enough to her grandchild. She didn’t tell anybody and quietly refilled the packs. Later when Misry saw the cans full she was surprised and felt guilty for her act. She felt ashamed that even after getting caught she was not penalized.
From that day onwards she never stole food from the room again. But Dida didn’t stop there. She knew Misry had stopped stealing but the child craved for food in the afternoon when the entire house slept. So she always kept the supply of sandesh and Morcya Gur for her without anybody’s notice in her room and Misry loved the old lady even more for that.
One day in the market
“Children don’t hesitate at all. Remember you are with your Dadu today. Shop whatever you want to. No one will say anything to you.” Dadu said getting down from the rickshaw followed behind by his gang of grandchildren.
The children were very happy for the opportunity. Dadu was the only person in the family who was always tagged as the miser as he never parted with even a rupee. And to their amazement he had taken them to the market and even declared that they could pick up whatever they wanted to – no budget. Smile never left their face.
Raju, Dia and Ria had quickly started making the list in their mind. Dia and Ria wanted a beautiful dress complete with accessories for the wedding, Raju wanted a complete suit for himself and leather shoes to go along with it. Misry was still blank. Her mind could not tell her clearly what she should look for.
“Are we ready children?” Dadu said.
“So tell me which shop?”
“The Big Family Shop.” The children sang in chorus.
“Let’s go then.”
They entered the big showroom and went to the respective section to make their choice. Dadu too went to gents section to look something for himself. All were busy making a choice while Misry stood back in the reception counter.
After about an hour all of them came out of the showroom each carrying a bag in their hand. But Misry was still empty handed.
“What happened Didibhai? Didn’t you like anything?” Dadu asked little worried.
“Na Dadu. I don’t want to buy clothes.” Misry replied.
“Tell me dear what do you want? We can go to another shop if you want too?” Dadu asked.
“Dadu I want Misti.” Misry said eagerly.
“Oh Misti! Yes why not! Here take a look which one you want. We all can have something to eat.” Dadu said entering the big Sweet Shop owned by his student.
Raju and his sisters had already made their selection while MIsry was still looking through the glass pane.
“Didn’t you get what you want Misry?”
Misry shook her head.
“Okay tell me, what do you want?”
“Morcya Gur!” Misry said longingly.
Both the shopkeeper and Dadu started laughing.
“Your grandchild is very smart, Sir.” The shopkeeper said to Dadu and handed over a small earthen cup to Misry. She licked up till the last drop.
Back at home when everybody came to know about it they laughed out loud.
Madhavi thought ,”When will you GROW UP MESSY!!”
Dida – Mother’s Mother
Maach Bhat – Bengali Traditional fish curry
Morcya Gur- date plam jaggery in semi liquid form available only in Bangladesh during winters.
the Nolen gurer sandesh – a type of sweet made of date palm jiggery
Dadu- Mother’s father
Misti – sweet
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.