The 'kalla' conundrum


The 'kalla' conundrum

Won’t you love to get a glimpse of the kalla (thief), otherwise the ever-elusive one? If you are a movie buff and go back in years, you have a stereotype emerge.

He was mostly dark in colour, wore a lungi, a mole on his face on one of the cheeks, oiled and well-combed hair, and sometimes a towel tied around his waist to keep the lungi in place on a bulging belly.

A thick silver ring, an equally thick bangle on the other hand, with a beedi, almost completed the overall getup. Add to it…a banian a.k.a. vest, Hawaii chappals, and paan-stained lips. Most definitely, he would flaunt his dark goggles too.
Growing up as a child, I had heard my parents discuss several varieties, but the one who impressed me the most was a sara kalla, specialising in expensive chains (a shame on the current generation who come from behind, on their bikes, like cowards, and ride away with the booty).

The new genre of movies disappoint you for their depiction of kallas. They are shown as a lot more sophisticated; as you and me. Like a Damocles sword hanging over my head, I wondered how a kalla looked like in the real world.

Never did I expect to have his darshan so late in the day, as I’m inching closer to what they refer to as mid-life, with an ever increasing midriff. With a resolve to keep the latter under control, I went to bed. It must have been 2 am, no way to tell though… it was my wife who whispered into my ears, “Did you hear some noise coming from the portico?”

I leapt out of bed, hoping to have the much-awaited darshan. I eased quietly to the front window to get a full glimpse of my wife’s parked car and its periphery. I hoped for a shadow to emerge, and it did. My heart racing, I switched on the portico light. And there he was, the kalla.

Opportunity never knocks twice, you see. So, I quickly examined his looks; he wore long-sleeved checked shirt, nicely creased pants, and sported a crew cut. He was also so clean-shaven with a well-groomed moustache that I felt he had used the car rear view mirror for a quick shave.

He was even fair skinned. What was disappointing was the fact that he became nervous and put a veil around his face, with the handkerchief that made out of his pocket at lightning speed. He jumped over the compound wall and sped away. I did scream, “Kalla-kalla,” and believe me, the voice did not choke in my throat, like it would in my many bad childhood dreams, but came in full might, only to fall on my deaf neighbours’ ears.

The next morning, I sized up his booty — the car stereo system and big speakers at the back. His was precision work to cut the beading around the back glass and remove the entire glass itself, while the car’s security alarm system and the car itself stood as mute spectators. He had used the milk bag to carry his booty, but, being an honest professional, he had left the milk coupons behind.

I was devastated because this kalla was nowhere near my image of one. May be I need to keep my hopes alive that I will get to see my kalla one day; not the one ‘shirt’ed and ‘pant’ed.

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