short story #11: A lockdown story

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. 🙂

Click here to read all my other short stories. 🙂

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© 2020 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.

37 thoughts on “short story #11: A lockdown story

  1. So much to appreciate here in your post. Manu created change by giving the shopkeeper a second chance and both were happy. Your story was memorable and included teachable moments. I also liked the Uncle expression of respect. We don’t in canada but wish we did. I have seen that expression in writing – Have you read any of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith? They are heartwarming stories. – best wishes, David

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ohh, I’m so glad that you found the story to be very interesting and memorable. 😃 In India, we consider it rude to address elders by name. So we end up calling strangers sir, madam, uncle, aunty, and several other words of respect. The language can vary from place to place. But due respect will be given to elders. That’s exactly why Manu addressed him as uncle. Thank you for your suggestion. I have not read the book but I’ll definitely check it out. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad that you came across my story! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed this story. I have drawn on my experiences being alone in the city and exaggerated them just a tad bit. Thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂 They brought a smile to my face.
      P.S: That comment made me curious – where did you come across this post?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, I follow your blog and it popped up on my reader dashboard.
        The lockdown has got me writing a lil more than usual and while I am still working on my lockdown story – I think the story extends with the lockdown- I did write a two part short story recently. It’s called A Storyteller’s Tale and I would be happy to know your inputs on that maybe how I can improve my writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed it. It gave me a glimpse of life under lockdown in your country.

    You know, I do think that this crises will have some good returns. It has really shown us a different world, a world that may still be, where people care about each other and about the world around them.
    I hopw we won’t forgett it too soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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