A new virus was going around and the world was in lock-down. Rouchen was all alone at home since he was not allowed to go out with his parents and didi had not come in today because the world was on lock-down. Mummy and Papa had stepped out for ten minutes, they wanted to go pick up milk, bread, curd and assorted stuff. They had to go because didi had not come to work today usually she was the one who did all the procurement. Also mamma did not like the idea of sending out dad alone for these grocery trips. Last year he had come back from one such lone trips all bruised. He claimed he had been chased by dogs, had slipped and fallen bruising himself all over. So mamma figured that at seven years old Rouchen was old enough to be left alone for ten minutes. As a precaution they had left papas phone at home, just in case.
Rouchen was not allowed to do anything fun nowadays, no going out of the house and not much playing at home either… well not all through the day at least. Earlier it was fine because both mom and dad had all the time in the world to play with him during the lock-down. This year it was so different. From the very first day that the lock-down was announced both mamma and papa were ready and had setup their offices in the spare room and the living room respectively (didn’t want to be interrupting each others calls so separate rooms). Every morning they’d wake up early, get ready and pop out to the parking lot, walk for 45 minutes and get back just in time to catch him waking up. Then everyone would get ready have breakfast and scoot off to school and work, mamma to the spare room where they had her office, papa to the living room where he had his desk and Rouchen to his room where he had his computer connected to the school. The grocery trips and cooking/cleaning chores were taken care of during breaks from work during the day.
It was a Saturday so no school either. Bummer if it hadn’t been for the virus he could’ve gone out with them. He knew their secret so it was fine, he knew he had something to look forward to. Every evening when they went out for their walk on the podium parking they would come back with a treat for him, sometimes it was a croissant, sometimes a cupcake, or a packet of little hearts, or maggi. Small things that made him feel excited. Turns out they had stocked the boot of the car that dad used with all these goodies and would fetch something for him everyday from there. Nothing exotic just a small treat that made him feel good and excited about completing the worksheets everyday. It was a reward for completing the schoolwork and letting them work in peace.
Anyway so here he was all alone at home. Oh this was the perfect time to look at the seesaw he had been eyeing for the longest time. Rouchen thought that if he could convince his parents to build a play area in the balcony it would feel better. Just a small slide and a seesaw, there already was a swing in place. On a whim he went online on his computer and searched for seesaw toy. The first result was from Amazon, how cool. Before he could say seesaw the order was placed and the OTP was on the screen of dads phone, which was sitting right there on the desk. Rouchen keyed in the OTP and tada the order was placed. Now wasn’t it smart of him to have memorized the CVV from dads credit card. Every time dad placed any order online he would ask Rouchen to fetch the wallet. So now Rouchen had the grid and the CVV memorized and would tell dad whichever numbers he needed without getting up and fetching the wallet. So much for extra safe online transactions.
The order was received at the toy store and Hasmukh bhai got busy packing the seesaw. Imagine a seesaw sale in the middle of a lockdown. That was just sheer good luck. He got to keep the Amazon commission too if he could deliver it himself. Once he was done he called out to Karim “Oye Karimme! go deliver this right away”. Karimm was his house elf, a tall slim man who would do all the heavy lifting at the shop. He was an exceptionally resourceful guy who could always be relied upon to get the job done. Today though Karimm was not exactly the picture of confidence. He had run into a police constable on his way to work and had had to pedal extra fast to outrun the cop running after him with a cane raised over his head. Lockdown was fine but how was he to feed his kids and wife if he didn’t turn up for work. All the business owners in the market had agreed mutually that they would not pay unless workers actually turned up for work. This in-spite of the fact that dear-most-respected-and-beloved-supreme leader had advised everyone to pay salaries regardless of attendance. Anyway so a heavily panting Karimm had turned up only to be scolded for having been fifteen minutes late and for not having his mask on properly. So much for compassion.
Karimm took the seesaw and loaded it on his shoulder, too big for the cycle. As soon as he reached the main road he was confronted by another constable. “Where to? Don’t you know the curfew is in force? Want some nice spanking or what? Go back before I let loose.” The constable didn’t have to say anything twice. In fact even before he got up from his chair Karimm had reached the shop and was unloading the seesaw. From inside the shop Hasmukh bhai screamed in horror “Why did you bring it back? I put a tracker on it. Amazon is tracking the package and sending updates to the buyer, go go take it away from the shop or I’ll get penalized”. Karimm told Hasmukh bhai about the constable and that evening took the seesaw home. He figured he would deliver it first thing in the morning before coming to work.
At home his sons started pestering him to let them play with it. Karimm and his wife had a tough time rescuing the parcel from those two, finally they went off to sleep. His wife told him “It’s already 11PM, if you go out around an hour later and deliver you might be ok because there would be no constables on the streets, besides you just need to leave it outside the buyers house so even if they’re asleep there wont be an issue. You don’t need to take a signature. The kids would be very difficult to control in the morning”. Karimm loved this lady for precisely this sort of presence of mind. So off he went. By the time he had left home it was already midnight, he was tired but this job needed to be done or else Hasmukh bhai would not pay him the delivery charges. It was a long six mile walk. He trudged on along.
As he neared the building where he needed to deliver, Karimm realised that he had walked into a trap. The scariest sight ever was right in front of him. Two cops, sitting on a motorcycle and looking the other way, chatting! This was it. He was done for, no escaping a thrashing now. All those videos he had laughed at all these days… now he was about to star in one of those. “What do I do now?!”… Idea!!
The cops heard the sound of loud singing coming from behind them. The words were not clear, they turned around to see what it was at two in the night (well early morning). Who or what was it that was causing the ruckus?! As they turned around they saw a truly scary sight, a ghostly figure in white sitting on a bright orange seesaw, in the middle of the highway and singing loudly! “Aaj to biryani banegi, dono ki biryani khaaoongaa, motorcycle bhi daal doonga. Yummmmmeeee!” (today I will cook these two into a biryani and eat them along with a garnish of their motorcycle). The cops lost it, they immediately started the motorcycle and bolted. Karimm gave mock chase to further scare them. Well as best as he could, covered as he was in the oversized white bag in which Hasmukh bhai had packed the seesaw. The cops rode their bike fast down the road and soon vanished. Karimm ran back to the seesaw, getting out of the white bag as he raced, picked it up and stuffed it into the bag. Then he ran towards the building where he had to deliver the seesaw… now he had to figure out how to outwit the security guards and reach the final destination… but even before that the famished street dogs…
4 thoughts on “Lockdown Biryani”
After the lock down you should compile all the stories and compete for the Booker Prize.
another one written to calm down Ira who was quite disturbed by the thought of a person walking down palm beach road at 2 in the morning… Let’s see I should write a lot more to be in any sort of reckoning…
Excellent! Loved the twist in the ending. Yes, you should compile your stories and make a book for sure.