Badmash bandicoot and Meethi mausi

Badmash bandicoot and Meethi mausi

Badmash bandicoot and Meethi mausi

First, it was the roses. Then, the hydrangea, followed by the hibiscus! Was there no limit to the marauder’s appetite?

“Arre! Someone has ruined my roses and my lemon grass...who could it  be? Sunte ho! Did you see anyone attacking my plants?” asked Meethi Mausi of her husband. He was never Mr Kumar or Mausaji; just ‘Sunte ho’!

“What are you shouting for?” mumbled Mausaji from behind the newspaper. Shaking her head in frustration, Mausiji turned on Chintu and Bunty, her nephews. She was sure their games of cricket in her garden had ruined her precious plants.

Chintu and Bunty protested loudly and instantly, “Mausi, we never play in the garden...let alone hit sixes at your roses!” That set Meethi Mausi thinking. She went looking for the gardener of the housing colony.

“Totaram, tell me what could be wrong. My roses look like a hurricane has hit them!” Totaram smiled and said, “Mausi, this is the work of an ustaad...a bandicoot!”

“What! A bandicoot in my garden! What should I do, Totaram?” Mausi wailed. Totaram outlined a plan. “Let’s dig around the roots of the roses and lemon grass, and pour rat poison into the soil. For good measure, let’s scatter broken glass all around the plants.

That should most certainly keep the bandicoot away.” Sinister, did you say?!

Mausi got to work right away, roping in a very reluctant Mausaji. She sweated it out and ruined her pretty off-white georgette saree, the one with the hand-painted peacocks.

Even though she was crestfallen that the brand new saree which her sister-in-law had gifted her was all dirty and stained, she was certain that her efforts would not be in vain.

The saree was a small sacrifice in her epic battle with the bandicoot.

Satisfied with her hard work, Meethi Mausi brushed the dirt off the saree, resolving to send it to the dry cleaners right away. Else, her nanad would comment caustically about her carelessness at handling what was indeed a lovingly-chosen gift.

The next morning Meethi Mausi, who was anything but meethi (her nephews whispered ‘kuch katti kuch meethi’ behind her back), sprang out of bed and went quickly to the scene of crime. Well, what do you know? The bandicoot had struck again! It hadn’t come to the roses and the lemon grass; it had attacked the hydrangea instead! Meethi Mausi exclaimed, “Iska naam toh badmash bandicoot hona chahiye!”

Hearing her loud wails, Totaram arrived on the scene to console her. He suggested Plan B. “Let’s dig up all the plants in the garden and pour more poison! Let’s block all the holes with glass pieces. Then, the bandicoot will have no choice but to leave.”

‘Operation Save (Ruin?) Mausi’s Garden’  was launched with gusto. The mission was to rescue all the plants from Badmash Bandicoot though Totaram preferred to now call him ‘Badshah’!

Totaram led from the front with Meethi Mausi choosing her battlegear with great care — faded overalls borrowed from Chacha Chaudhary who was once a pilot. Mausaji, by the way, had wisely disappeared and Mausi was too busy to find him!

Mausi and Totaram set to work at 9 am and were done by 6 pm. With a satisfied sigh, the two of them retired for a cup of tea and piping hot samosas made by Bholu chacha, the 50-year-old cook. They were quickly joined by Chintu and Bunty and Mausaji, who sniffed the air appreciatively before tucking into five samosas each!

Mausi was too exhausted to wonder where they had all been when she had been labouring in the garden with Totaram.

The next day, a very excited Meethi Mausi rushed to the garden, certain that the bandicoot had been frightened away.

Alas! Badmash bandicoot had given the hydrangea a miss, choosing to focus his energy on the hibiscus hedge!

Throwing up her hands and managing a weak smile, Meethi Mausi said: “Arre, Sunte ho! We should learn to live and let live. Let the Badmash come and go as he pleases. I am sure in a matter of time, he will leave my garden alone.”

So that really was the happy ending to Badmash Bandicoot’s story. He wasn’t so much of a badmash really. He was just being himself!

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