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Golgappa Diaries: Stealing Pickles and Sex

Sudha madhuri dash is a published author of many novels. Along with photography she loves horse riding and practices odissi dance.

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stealing pickles and making friends with the squatters

As she lay down on the hard mat…the buzzing sound of cricket in the forests bordering the village kept her, awake...sleep was difficult to come that night as she lay thinking. All were supposed to have come for this camp. Why only a selected few had turned up? She wondered. Her thoughts strayed to her family, must be enjoying their holidays in Calcutta…next time maybe…she would go too. The mornings were always busy; the wood charcoal and dung cakes sourced from the villagers would stubbornly refuse to light up…the women would simply blow their lungs out, trying to stir up some heat into heart of the oven. Mornings under the shade of the trees were cool and breezy. As the sun rose higher to embrace the sky more passionately, it became hotter and uncomfortable even under the tall and shady trees. Sumatra and the other women would head for the river…a dip in its cool depths would soothe their heated nerves and bring a smidgen of relief. The elderly women kept a strict control on the behaviour of the group; the afternoons were very hot and added to their discomfort. As if these were not enough, the kiss-and-tell company of flies that refused to leave them alone was an added bonus. Sumatra sat on one corner of the mat, breaking a twig absent-minded between her long, slim fingers. She could feel the rivulets of sweat flowing down the mounds of her soft budding breasts. Her slim white thighs felt moist and sticky, she felt a terrible urge to jump into the cooling waters of the river but the very thought of the gharials lurking in the dark depths of the river, stopped her in the midst of such cooling thoughts. She missed the chirpy company of her sisters…Sunaina the most…pen poised in her slim long- nailed fingers she sat down to blacken the white sheaf of paper…a letter…the call of the day.

“Heard you what…the old farmhouse yonder the hill has the best of the ripe mangoes and jackfruit growing. Anyone ready for a picking?” The loud and indecent voice drew everyone’s attention.

Sumatra looked up at the short and squat figure that stood with legs astride on the wooden mat. Mingu Parida, daughter to a postmaster…proud and loud of her inheritance….a robust handsomeness that many women would shy from possessing. Her skin had a fairness that almost amounted to albinism. Sumatra often wondered why she had been nicknamed ‘Fogy’ by the girls. Mingu Parida firmly believed that God had created her to be heard. The elderly women in the group shook their heads with disdain and sniffed the air, as if she was but a bad smell of some kind.

Her little adventures with the two-legged kinds were not much of a mystery to anyone. Sumatra studied her and felt a twinge bit of envy…the girl had the guts and the freedom to make her own choices and she never shied away from expressing her feelings. Mingu stood proud and shook her head full of short, scruffy hair that had seen better days of oiling. Men shied away from her at daytime, but night was another matter altogether. She had a busy schedule among the workers and very little time for chores and duties. Mingu raised her thick and bushy eye brows…a deep challenge lay in her eyes and in her short, stocky figure. Sumatra suddenly felt the strong urge to escape

Getting up and straightening out her bland cotton sari, she said, “I shall come….”Seeing her leaving, the other girls also joined in. Their chatter sounded like the many jays who had settled down to feed on a farmer’s rich produce.

“God, I was feeling so suffocated!” said one of the girls.

“The heat and the sweat...unbearable,” said another.

“Oh Lord! My inner thighs are scratching like hell!” said the plump girl with short hair.

Her action of scratching her nether regions set off a chain reaction among the others.

“The mosquitoes and the flies making love to us every time one tries to rest…I hate this place…

I was forced to join by my Baba,” said the tall thin girl with a red ribbon in her long plait.“

What about you?” Sumatra looked at the girl who had asked her that question; raising her delicate bow- shaped eyebrows, she answered, “My own convictions.”

“Your what?” that was Mingu.

Even the other girls were looking at her, surprised. “You want this in your life?”

“Asking is getting...you know.” Sumatra did not give a reply but blushed.

Mingu Parida, strangely thoughtful and silent-very unusual of her-kept that stance until they reached the orchard. The heady smell of ripening mangoes mixed with the aroma of pickles laid out in the sun to mature, threatened the sanity of the girls. While some got busy doing an Eve’s job of plucking mangoes, some others made pigs of themselves over jars of sun-dried mango slices. Tall jars of spicy mango pickle left the girls salivating for more. There was not even a twinge of hesitation or guilt in their attack.

“The maker of the pickles has a magic touch...I simply can’t stop eating!” said one of the girls, greedily licking the oil from her fingers.

Sumatra sat down in the cool shade of a tall mango tree. This was live entertainment, she thought...the girls came from diverse backgrounds; yet on that day, pickles and mangoes seemed to have united them as one, dissolving all barriers.

The orchard belonged to the zaminder, an old hog of a man, recently having got married for the third time. He preferred staying indoors, leaving the orchard at the mercy of Biranchi Swain, a school dropout and dimwit of a man. Upon reaching the orchard, Mingu Parida had made a sneaky disappearance. After the initial melee for pickles, the girls had now settled down in the cool shade of the trees.

Sucking a plum juicy mango one of the girls made a note of Mingu's absence. "She is busy,” said the girl with red ribbons in her hair, raising and lowering one of her eyebrows in a very suggestive manner

.“Doing what?” asked the tall gangly one still licking her fingers greedily.

“You donkey…she is busy so that you can fill your fat mouth.” said another with a naughty wink.

“Busy?”“ Playing innocent now, are we? OK! You want it in black and white? By the sounds of it which my inner ear can hear…yes, she is lying with her legs wide open while he is entering her…smashing into her with his…”“And then?”“

Eager are we to know!” giggled another.

“Shut up. ”Girls!” Sumatra’s tone toned down their ribaldry.

“These mangoes are too good…I think I shall marry the old hog.”

“Yeah, you will gain vast knowledge from his sea of flaccid experience!” said another.

“Experience or sea of vacant trials and attempts?” laughed another

.A mindless conversation kept everyone entertained…it was cooler too under the thick shade of the trees. The warm evening saw the girls heading towards the river-too many mangoes often express themselves very loudly, most of them were suffering from stomach cramps, and they were feeling the unbearable urge to relieve themselves. They headed straight for the riverbank. The scanty cover of bushes offered little protection against prying eyes. The girls stood undecided with looks of concentration and control upon their faces. It would not be that easy...at least not at this time of the day. The riverbank sported a different look during the day. Prospective men squatters could be seen loitering around, with small brass pots in their hands. “I need to do…cannot wait till night fall…I shall burst,” said the girl with red ribbons in her hair

“I too…I shall die if I delay the process any further,” said the short girl with egg-shaped glasses perched at the tip of her nose.

“Look at this place…at night it looks different.

”“Yes it would, at night you cannot see these small termite hills or those fresh piles….”

Sumatra was the only one who had remained quite balanced in gobbling down of mangoes and pickles; she stood guard while the others squatted down wherever they could. The covers were scanty and the prickly bushes, few. She did her best to shoo away prospective squatters, mostly men and boys. The crowd of men squatters seemed to be growing bigger and bigger with each passing moment. Word in these small villages got around very quickly and everyone wanted a slice of the pie. It was their lucky day and most were very eager to make the best of it. Sumatra did her best to dissuade but...the more determined and desperate among the male squatters did not leave but joined in, behind the bushes and the rocks. Polite conversations between squatters kept the atmosphere light and informal-the sharing of the water pots also forged friendships, including most unlikely ones. The girls in order to remain incognito had covered their faces. The logic behind this was that a covered face offered the needed amount of privacy for such a ritual. The exposed base was not of much importance, for a man is known by his face and not by his base. The tall girl with bottle-thick glasses offered another great reason; if the villagers wanted to lodge a complaint, they have to point out the miscreants. Now that would prove to be difficult, for all they had seen were the various sizes and colours of their hairy bases.

Sumatra being a very intelligent and balanced girl digested this knowledge with an agreeable smile upon her face, as she did not want to offend the speaker. Though one point did revolve in her mind for quite some time...in such austere conditions when all one could think of was flies, mosquitoes and more flies, the girls did have a strong sense of humour and a depth of myriad thoughts that would provoke any writer to pen down a few lines here and a few lines there. Mingui Parida appeared after her long sojourn with one of the squatters. It seemed that she had not yet had her fill of thigh rubbing; her skin was a canvas of blue and purple. She on finding no other reason to delay further, shed her sari and blouse that already had a few vital buttons missing in the right places. Throwing a smile at the girls, she plunged into the fast- flowing river.

“She is evil...bad apple, the gharials should get her,” said the plump girl whose breath smelt of onions.

“She is, still we all need her to get to those ripe mangoes tomorrow,” said another.

“The gharials should get that fat posterior which sticks out like two alien orbs,” said the plump girl who had just come from her long sojourn at squatting.

The jokes about Mingu got bolder with each passing moment but Sumatra who was observing her, swimming boldly, without a care, thought that maybe she was not evil after all. Her kind of carefree boldness was difficult to find in post-independent India. Daylight was getting rare by the time the girls returned to the camp. Disapproving glances were of course expected and as such did not have much of an effect on their young spirits.

Chores done, Sumatra hurried to complete her unfinished letter.

© 2022 sudha madhuri dash

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