A Cow Ate It

I drove in the gate, and Chinnaraj came toward me with a brown paper envelope containing a Gujarati magazine, Dakshin Hulchul. Someone gave us a gift subscription; there seems to be a new issue every third day or so. As I took the envelope out of his hand, I wondered why it was so damp, and torn up around the edges. Chinnaraj said, "I was just bringing this inside to give to you when a cow came up behind me and tried to eat it." I looked at him suspiciously -- no one has ever said that to me before -- but decided to go inside quietly, and wash my hands.

Before that I got my hair cut. In the small hairdressing salon, a television, on a high shelf, was playing an old Hindi movie. I wasn't interested, and my mind was drifting off, when the hairdresser, who was in the middle of cutting my hair, said, "Tijori khaali hai (the safe is empty)," and laughed. I looked up at the TV and saw Rishi Kapoor just about to open a big blue metal safe. He did open it, and recoiled theatrically, so that the viewer could see that it was indeed empty. The hairdresser said, "His brothers already stole all the money. The father told the daughter, as soon as I've had my heart surgery I'll divide all my property into four parts, but then he went to the hospital and died."

She laughed again and said, "This is very common in families." I said, "What, stealing your father's money?" but she was absorbed in finding out what was going to happen next. I've wondered many times who enjoys these family melodramas, full of misery. Now I've seen my hairdresser watch one and laugh. Fortunately, she's good at multitasking, and my hair is all right.

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