Sunday, 20 September 2009

Acting The Saheb

“Twenty five buckets of water! You will bring twenty five buckets of water and clean it!” my father screeched.


Sunday afternoons are always lazy and uneventful. If I’m not out and by myself, I’ll spend it in my room.

We have a small flat, on the ground floor. It’s in a relatively well-off neighbourhood. The bed in my room is horizontally placed against the wall containing the only window in the room. Right outside the window is a large bush, which is trimmed so that it fits the exact length of my window and ends just where the window begins.

I was in my room one Sunday afternoon, sitting on my bed. It’s my most favourite place to be, on days like this one. I heard an odd hissing sound, so I looked out and saw a strange man urinating in the bush outside. It seemed like he had purposely placed his three-wheeler goods vehicle close to the bush, because he stood wedged between the bush and the vehicle, doing his job in his make-shift toilet.

He didn’t know I could see him, from behind my Netlon.

I called my father, to come and see what was going on.


My father, is not a hot tempered man. He can be so calm about things, that he can make you angry for it. He is always controlled. In many ways, he is even timid.

But that Sunday, something went off in him, and he began to shout like a mad man from inside my room. The trespasser was shocked and looked around alarmed, trying to find where this strange voice was addressing him from. He hurriedly pulled his zip and pants up, and hopped back into his vehicle, trying to appear innocent. I was watching all this, from inside my room. My father then stormed outside, and began to shout at this man again.

Apparently, the president of the apartment’s owner’s association had hired this vehicle, to pick up some furniture from her house.

The president of the owner’s association is a rich woman. She owns six dogs and three flats in our complex. She’s quite the bully and a force to be reckoned with.

By this time, a small group of maid servants, sweepers, security guards and drivers had gathered. I could see how hard they were trying to straighten their faces. Some turned away, and I knew they were laughing.


The trespasser began to plead with his hands folded “Maaf kijye sir, maaf kijiye. Main patient hoon.” He then began to cough violently, his chest heaving in and out from the strain, hand placed over his heart. It didn’t appear to be a very real bout. He was obviously afraid of what the repercussions of his action may be. “Would they fine me?” Whether he was a heart patient or not, I will never know. However, he seemed to suffer from the illness of Elephantiasis, because even though he was a large man, one could see an abnormally large lower body, from his waist down.

That was when my father spotted a boy, of no more than twelve years in age, peeping out at the tamasha, from behind the vehicle. He was the helper, to the trespasser of the goods vehicle.

“Twenty five buckets of water! You will bring twenty five buckets of water and clean it!” my father screeched.

He did this first at the trespasser and then when he realized that the man didn’t look like he was going to oblige and his coughing increased dramatically, my father pointed at the boy, and screeched the same.

Acting the Saheb.

The boy reluctantly came out from his hiding place. One of the sweeper women shoved a bucket into his hands, stifling giggles all the while. Another woman helpfully pointed in the direction of a tap, that the gardener used to water plants. The boy began to walk in the direction of the tap. My father shouted again. “NOT THERE! That’s not for you to use. Go to the public toilet and fetch the water from there.”

Twenty five times the boy trudged up and down, from the toilet to the bush. By the time he got to the bush, there was hardly any water left in his bucket. It had left a trail all the way behind him, marking the path he took, for another man’s sin.

The offender sat in his vehicle all along. My dad stood outside with all the society-cleaners, supervising the young boy. The crowd began to dwindle. Only my father, the offender and the boy were left, my father still counting.