Surprisingly, some incidents have a way of surviving the ravages of time. However dated they might get, they still manage to bristle with humour.
Last year, my parents were with me in Bangalore for one month. Mostly, they were indoors as this was their second visit and on the first one they had visited most of the spots that attract tourists in Bangalore.
One day, my father had briefly ventured out while my mother and I were at home. I was talking to my mother while it occurred to me that I had to go out on a personal errand. I walked to the door, unbolted (we have old-fashioned bolts) it and gently pushed the door. The door refused to open; someone had bolted the door from outside.
There was nobody within shouting distance I could call and have the door unbolted. It was not very long since my father had left for market, so he would take sometime to return.
Who would open the door? Who had bolted the door locking us inside? Was it a mischief of the building kids?
Although I was not venturing out on an extremely important chore, being disallowed to go out when I wanted to felt stifling. It was like being denied freedom.
I started pacing about in the room. I had told the landlord to replace the bolt outside with the one whose latch could be arrested with a lock, preventing a mischief monger from bolting the door from outside locking us inside. The owner procrastinated replacing the bolt, and here we were…locked inside.
My mother’s concern wasn’t so much about the present predicament as about a distant possibility: what if I was alone, famished (I don’t cook at home), wanting to venture out to eat and found myself locked without any one within earshot to come to my rescue. “We have to get it changed today,” as my mother said this, we heard a gnashing sound: someone was unbolting the door. My father was back from market.
“Who bolted the door,” my father asked as he stepped inside. “The do-gooder didn’t tell his name,” my mother replied.
My father was as perturbed about someone having bolted the door mischievously as my mother. He started deconstructing the mystery, but couldn’t figure out who did it. As his analysis failed to yield any plausible culprit, he turned his wrath to the landlord.
“When you introduced me to that guy, I understood he was an ‘all promise no service’ type,” he told me.
I told him that during my last one-year stay, this had happened for the first time; but failed to calm him.
Few hours later, while we – my parents and I - were lunching together, my father suddenly intoned, “ohhh..." “What happened?” my mother and I looked up and asked.
My father had loosely recalled that he had unmindfully bolted the door while going to market (my father is sometimes forgetful - like me - and always in haste – unlike me).
After my parents left for Calcutta, I reminded the landlord of the offending bolt, but somehow he never replaced it (he has fixed costlier things, though). I never forgot the bolt because my parents didn’t let me.
Though since then the bolt has never caused me trouble, it has sometimes reminded me of the incident and given me light-hearted moments.