THE MISADVENTURES OF THE COMEDIENNE SISTERS. A FUNNY SHORt STORY BY ME.
” And the winner of the World Tour contest is,” paused the host of the game show, ” Ms. Lekha Patel.” I was ecstatic and fist-pumped the air. The host was wearing a mask while announcing the prize winner. No sooner did I step on the podium to claim my prize, he unmasked himself. I was delighted to find my crush, Bollywood Superstar Hrithik Roshan. He handed me a trophy and tickets for the cruise. I requested an autograph from him. He scribbled his name on my palm and gave me a killer smile. I searched for my sister, but she had disappeared mysteriously.
I didn’t want to miss my ship. I stuffed my clothes in a suitcase and went alone to the Mumbai port to board my luxury liner. A single kick to my backside sent me flying down to the floor. Mom was glaring at me as if she would burn me alive with her eyes like Lord Shiva. I searched for my partner in crime, my dear sister, Rhea. She was nowhere in sight. ” Well,” said Mom, the Hitler,” Your sister is already attending her online classes. Better get ready for your next class.” She waited until I finally stepped out of the comfort of my bed.
I missed my first class. I had to come up with a reasonable excuse. The rest of my classes went on without a hitch. The lecture that I had skipped was mathematics. My maths teacher, Mrs. Meena Devi, was a stern lady. My classmates and I used to call her She-dragon. I put on my thinking cap, mulling over the next course of action.
Mrs.Chatterbox barged in with a gigantic stride that would cause a landslide. “Alka, Where are you?” she almost shrieked. Grandma came out of her room with her walking stick in her hand. I beckoned Rhea to join me and watch the melodrama. Grandma yelled, ” Whose grandmother died that you are screaming your heart out?” Mrs. Chatterbox glared at her and said, “I have good news for her. A famous astrologer is visiting our society tomorrow. He is well-known for his accurate prediction.”
Grandma replied,” That reminds me, I can make accurate predictions as well.” Mrs. Chatterbox raised her eyebrows, contemplating whether to believe her or not.
We watched their exchange with bated breath. Grandma pretended to close her eyes and said, “All of us will be enjoying our holiday after two days.” Mrs.Chatterbox questioned her,” How can you be so sure about it?” My grandma opened her eyes after faking a trance,” You are a moron. Any idiot will tell you that it’s Thursday today. I hope you can calculate the number of days between Thursday and Sunday, excluding both the days.”
We were rolling down with laughter. Mrs. Chatterbox controlled her fury and replied, ” Please convey my message to Alka. I am going.” She did an about-turn and stomped off. Mom came home an hour later. She was carrying two bags full of vegetables enough to last for a week. ” Have you spent my son’s whole month salary on buying the vegetables? “exclaimed grandma. Mom glared at her and said, ” Well, if you agree to eat plain rice and dal without the vegetable gravy, I have no problem to stop buying them.” That was the end of the discussion.
Mom’s mobile belted out an old Hindi song. She picked up the call and was only nodding her head. She opened her mouth to respond but the caller kept on bombarding her with unwanted information. I felt sorry for her. I signalled her to keep quiet and hand over the phone to me. She felt relieved to let me deal with the caller. I listened to the blabbermouth on the other side who was desperately trying to force her to donate money generously to the orphanage. “Excuse me, ma’am,” I said, “Please try contacting the Reserve Bank of India. We don’t press currency notes here.”
The caller was shocked by my sarcasm. She said, ” I am talking about providing food for children. You can donate a minimum of 1000₹ for providing breakfast. Your neighbor, Mr. Gupta gave 2000₹.” ” If Gupta committed suicide, should I end my life as well? By the way, who eats breakfast for a thousand bucks? Are you ordering food from Taj Hotel?” The caller abruptly ended the call.
Well, there has been a gang of criminals operating in our city, forcing people to part with money on the pretext of donation towards charity. Most of the funds never reached the actual NGOs. Mom was pleased to get rid of the nuisance. I told her about Mrs. Chatterbox’s latest news. Mom was pretty excited about it. She called Mrs. Chatterjee aka Chatterbox. She entered our room with a special glow on her face. I teased her, ” Did your crush, the Bollywood heartthrob, Tiger Shroff, propose to you? Hey Rhea! That would make the handsome hunk our step dad. What do you think? “
Mom blushed but twisted my ear and said, ” Enough of your wisecracks. Tomorrow, the renowned astrologer Swami Hridayanand has given his kind consent to visit our house. I expect both of you to put on your best behavior.”
Rhea winked at me and posed an innocent question, ” Renowned astrologer, did you say? How come I have never heard of him? Is he a direct descendant of Nostradamus or a second cousin of Bejan Daruwalla?” I tried hard to suppress my giggle and pretended to scold her. I said, ” Don’t you dare question mom’s intelligence! If she says he is renowned, it means he is renowned….. “
Mom looked at me expectantly. I continued, ” In forgery, fraud, cheating, extorting money and daylight robbery! In fact, his name should be Swami Fraud Ananda Let’s see what kind of prediction he makes! ” We both burst out laughing, mom stormed out of our room, mumbling indecent words.
As usual, waking up in the morning was a draconian task for me. Mom made sure that both of us woke up early by pouring mugs of water on our sleepy heads. ” What the hell! “I scorned but mom’s glare had me cowed down. Rhea and I obeyed my mother’s instructions. Both of us hated astrologers because we never believed in that rubbish.
Mom had forced Dad to take a day off from his work despite his protests. We helped her to clear away everything in the living room to make space for our neighbors and visitors. Grandma, Dad and both of us prayed sincerely for the program to get cancelled. The doorbell rang and I opened the door only to find Mrs. Chatterbox panting for breath.
She said, ” I am sorry, Alka. The program got cancelled. Swami Hridayananda will not be coming today.” Except for mom, all of us were delighted to have our prayers answered. Grandma put on a straight face and asked, “Why? Is he having dysentery or Corona? It’s a pity he couldn’t foresee his own future and claims to be an astrologer.” Mrs. Chatterbox and Mom scowled at her. Mrs. Chatterbox said, “Swami Hridayananda passed away in his sleep last night. His discipline, Vijayananda, called me to pass on this news to all. “
Mom was silent. Mrs.Chatterbox left shortly to convey this news to others. I asked mom, ” What’s wrong, mom? Are you upset that he died? I feel sorry for making fun of him.” Mom said with a sigh, “I am sure you were right, Lekha. He must have been Fraud Ananda. I feel foolish for getting carried away on the prospect of meeting a great astrologer.” I hugged Mom and said, ” We are not against your believing in astrology but you should be careful before blindly trusting someone.”
The next day, the newspaper flashed the headlines:
” Fake astrologer Hridayananda alias Raju found dead in his home under mysterious circumstances. He was an ex-con who had disguised himself as an astrologer to mint money and swindle people to hand over their cash and jewelry against a promise to give them a good luck charm.” Mom had a hard time digesting this news while I and Rhea exchanged smiles. We hit the bulls eye with our assumption of the so-called astrologer being a fraud.
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