Earlier this year, Manu’s worst fear about viruses was that they would affect his laptop! But that was the least of his worries now. The lockdown was very tough on him. He was confined to his apartment, a bachelor trying his best to fill the shoes of his maid and cook.
Locked in his apartment, he realized the value of everything that he had been taking for granted. His favourite peanut butter bread spread was over within the first week. Unfortunately, all his nearby shops were out of peanut butter spread!
And so, Manu decided to explore a part of his apartment that he visited very rarely – the kitchen! Thanks to YouTube, food blogs, and numerous video calls to his mother, he managed to cook palatable food. Of course, his guides could only do so much. Thanks to his impatience and inexperience, the food was mostly burnt, too salty or too oily. He was so talented that he even managed to turn his non-stick into a sticky mess! But there was a time when he managed to pull off an amazing dish – Chicken biryani. Those who knew him well enough realized that it was a lucky stroke of fate. But his other followers thought that he had suddenly metamorphosed into an excellent chef. If they only knew how many attempts it took him to nail the dish. But even then, he was lucky he hadn’t overcooked the rice or under cooked the chicken!
He had singed his hands, trying to multitask while cooking. Luckily, it was his non-dominant left hand. When he was not busy attending the numerous calls from his office, he could be found sweeping (trying to!), cleaning, washing his clothes or dishes. In the evenings, he took extreme delight in swatting flies. He got so adept at wielding his electric bat that once a fly entered his house, death was certain for the little fellow.
He had stepped out one day for groceries. But the shopkeeper denied him entry because he didn’t have a mask. Manu hurried to the nearest medical shop. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a queue.
He went up to the counter and addressed the pharmacist.
“I need a mask, please.”
“No, wait. Make it two.”
He didn’t have anything to lose by buying an extra mask. After all, they couldn’t be reused! And it would finally give his mother some peace of mind. She had told him to buy masks, just in case they were needed. But like most adult children, he decided not to obey her.
“Here you go, sir. That will be 200 rupees”.
Manu was shocked. “What? 200 rupees. I asked for 2 masks, not two packets of masks!”
“Yes, sir. The cost has gone up. The demand has increased right. Even I have to pay more to my wholesale dealers. I cannot sell at a loss.”
Before Manu could say “You can keep your masks. I don’t want them.”, another customer arrived. A frail, old gentleman. He needed his phone to be recharged. Manu was shocked when the shopkeeper requesting an additional 50 bucks to do an online recharge claiming the lockdown as a reason!
This was getting out of hand. Manu decided to interfere. He looked at the elderly gentleman.
“Uncle, please don’t give him extra money. He is cheating you. Please tell me your phone number and I’ll recharge it for you. I won’t charge you any extra money. Please tell me your number and I will recharge it right now.”
The shopkeeper protested but the very mention of complaining to cops shut him up for good.
While he was doing the recharging, Manu found out that the elderly gentleman’s name was Damodhar. When he mentioned that he was staying in Manu’s apartment too, Manu felt slightly embarrassed that he had not taken an interest in getting to know his neighbours.
“The next time you want to recharge, you can call me. Here’s my number”. Manu said as he gave Damodhar a missed call.
“Thank you, beta. I don’t know how to thank you for this.”
“That’s alright, uncle. It was no trouble.”
Damodhar thanked Manu for the recharge, sent the greedy shopkeeper a dirty look, and headed back to the apartment.
Manu thought for a moment.
“I agree. You cannot sell at a loss. But now I’m sure that you are cheating gullible people. You are making a lot of profit. But you should be ashamed for taking advantage of people in a time like this. I would have called and reported you to the cops, but lucky for you, I believe in second chances. But if you try to pull this kind of trick again, you will pay dearly. Did you understand?”
“Yes, sir. I won’t repeat it. Please don’t report me to the cops!”.
“I won’t. But you have to keep up your end of the deal. Now, how much for the masks.”
“You can have them, sir. Please consider it as my thank you gift to you.”
The shopkeeper wasn’t pleased to have his hand forced, but he didn’t have any other option. He was only too pleased to give 2 masks to Manu, free of cost!
As for Manu, he was extremely pleased with himself. Not only did he get a scratch card that didn’t say “Better luck next time”, but he also got 2 masks, free of cost! 😀
Lady luck was on his side, after all.
This post was written in response to the Sunday Wordle #453 hosted by Brenda Warren at The Sunday Whirl. Thank you, Brenda for hosting this challenge. The challenge is to write a poem or short prose using some or all of the wordle words. Forms of the words are fine. The prompt words are highlighted in italics. This is my first attempt. 🙂
© 2020 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.