Thursday, December 14

Tall Tales: Dreams of Potatoes

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The entire water body was covered with them.  Wherever you look, you could see green leaves and pink lilies. The sun above shone brightly and through the gaps between the leaves you could see the blue radiant sky shining on the water. The air was a little moist from the rain of the day before and the frogs floated around lazily with just their eyes surfacing above the water. Almost half way across the river there sat a boat afloat, carrying two girls. They were barely ten years old and shared the same face. The younger of the two was holding an oar in her hands while the other was pulling at a lily stem. Beside her she had a few more lily stems already patched up. The little one stared blankly at her sister and yawned. After a while she moaned, “I am hungry!” and knitted up her eyebrows with dismay. Her sister paid her no attention. She had already got the stem she was pulling at but now was staring at something very keenly. 

“What is it?” asked her sister and started shifting to her side to see what it was.

“Stay where you are, Lolo!” snapped her sister, “Let’s go home.”

Lolo pulled a sulky face and started row while her sister looked ahead. They stopped again after a while as the older sister fished for lilies again. And then they continued rowing. They were more than half way across the river when the older one stumbled on the boat’s floor and lay all curled up. “I am hungry!” she exclaimed loudly.

“What do you think mom is cooking today, Mono,” mused her sister.

“Probably just rice again,” grumped Mono, “Not enough for all of us.”

“Maybe if we sell these lilies at the night market, we can have potatoes tomorrow,” said Lolo, excited.

“Or, we could just have these lilies.”

“But… I miss potatoes,” moaned Lolo again.

A few minutes passed and then Mono suddenly jumped into the water.

“Mono!”

She surfaced.

“Wait here. I’ll be back soon.”

“Mono!”

But she was gone.

Lolo flopped down on the boat’s floor and wondered what Mono was up to. She was very hungry.

Early that morning, mother had hit Mono and told her something nasty. After that Mono had ordered Lolo to follow her, even as mother was screaming from the back. Lolo had no idea about these nonsense and trusted things would be better by the evening. And so she lay flat on the boat’s floor waiting and waiting for Mono.

She wondered if she saw something at the bottom. What if it was treasure? They’d be very rich if they find treasure. Maybe they can even have a big building. And have potatoes to eat three times a day. Next she stumbled upon the prospect of helping her town with the money. She decided that if she got rich, she would give free food for everyone she knows. And as much potatoes as they wanted. Just dreaming these things put her in a better mood. Suddenly, she remembered Mono. It must have been hours since she left. Lolo at once crawled to the boat’s side.

“Mono!” she called, “There might be snakes in the water.”

No answer. So she called for her sister again.

Fear grabbed at her. She imagined all sorts of things that could’ve happened to her sister as she had lain dreaming.

“Mono!” Lolo yelled for the final time before rowing away to get help.

“What?” said Mono’s voice. She had just appeared out of the water and was throwing bloody fish aboard.

“Where have you been?” Lolo cried, tearfully.

“I was just fishing underneath. Why?”

Mono looked at Lolo questioningly, who was very relieved to see her twin climb back on the boat and asked at once, “How were you fishing, Mono?”

“Oh! I swam very fast and chased after the fish. Then I bit them and-“

“Hai! You’re a beast!”

“Shut up! You’ll be enjoying it tonight!”

“Mono,” Lolo asked quietly after a while, “Where do we go now?”

Mono was silent and, after a while, pinched her twin.

“Aiya!”

“We’ll go wherever. Whether father’s house or mother’s. We will live for ourselves. Got it? And we’ll buy our own potatoes too.”

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