Top secret

This is a decades old story, but deserves a narration. My SSLC exams were over and I had been to Dharwad with my family to meet my maternal relatives.

It was a nice get-together, and definitely a time for celebration as my maternal uncle was promoted to the post of manager in his bank.

So my maternal aunt (mami) had arranged a pooja to grace the occasion. She asked us the teenagers to do the necessary shopping by giving some crisp notes to my elder brother, which he carefully placed in his newly purchased wallet.

Our shopping team comprised five people, including two kids. The kids’ company was undesired for, because of their mischievousness. But they both confirmed their place in the team due to a heavy recommendation from their mother (my maternal aunt). So, with those unwanted team mates we boarded a city bus to reach the market.

After shopping for a couple of hours in the scorching sun the kids were tired, and so were we. The kids demanded for water, but we hadn’t carried any water bottles with us. Packaged drinking water bottles were very rare then.

So under the experienced guidance of the kids, we went to a famous “Juice and Snack” center. We enquired for sugarcane juice as it was the cheapest, but it was not available. So helplessly, we ordered three mango juices and the kids ordered pineapple juice, without glancing  at the menu card.

Till the order was served my brother did a quick tally of the shopping accounts and found a balance of Rs 40. He told us that this amount was suffi cient enough for our return journey by an auto, after having paid for the juice bills. We all were delighted to be dropped in an auto, as the shopping bags very too heavy.

In the mean time, the juices arrived in tall glasses. We gulped down the lip smacking juices within no time. Our tired faces blossomed. We were back to normal after sitting in a well air conditioned room. We were all set  now for the return journey by an auto. But destiny had planned something else for us.

The Pandora’s Box called ‘the bill’ arrived and just a glance at it had us profusely sweating in the AC room. The bill figured Rs 48. My brothers started patting their pockets to search for the difference amount. We decided to request the owner to allow us to go home, to bring back the difference amount. It was a very humiliating moment for us.

Suddenly a miracle happened. One of the naughty kids  carefully pulled out a Rs 10 note from his shorts, which had been given to him by a guets for chocolates, and placed it on my brother’s palm In that instant, the kid apperared to us like an angel sent by the divine power for our rescue. We paid the bill with full honour and pride.

Left penniless, we had to walk a distance of 3 kilometres in the hot sun by taking turns to lift the shopping bags and the pride-saving kids. We kept on request ing them not to disclose this incident to the elders at home and assured them a bribe of chocolates and ice-creams of their choice. The obedient kids agreed to the deal and this has remained a ‘top secret’ till date.

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