The idea struck when they were balancing on one leg holding each other’s ears on the bench. Mir and Bhanu decided now its enough, time to teach Kanai Master a lesson. It had become a daily regime. The first thing Kanai master, the headmaster at the village school, did was to punish this most notorious duo before beginning with the chapters, to keep all troubles at bay.
“Are you sure?” Bhanu asked in a hushed tone. To which Mir assured him, “Two hundred per cent! He keeps an iron key under his pillow at night to ward of evil spirits.”
“And what about the night watchman?”
“He mostly remains inebriated after his young wife passed away a year ago.” Suggested Mir.
Their hushed giggles followed as they imagined their plan play in their minds.
Since, it was the last day of their school before festival holidays, it was assumed, even if they get caught with their mischief, Kanai Master would forget by the time the school reopens. Or at least the severity of punishment would get diluted. So after the school, a fool proof plan was made which would be executed the next day.
The next morning a white saree from Bhanu’s grandmother’s set went missing, and his mother couldn’t locate where she had kept her vermilion case. However, the main obstacle was when Bhanu and Mir realized they need long hair. What is a Shankhchunni without flowing tresses?
After much brainstorming Bhanu arrived at a solution, “What about Faiz dada‘s wig?”
“But his Sitaharan play is in two days…”
“Chill! We will keep it back much before the play so that your dada can flaunt his hair while playing Sita,” Bhanu bounced his waist mockingly and they both rolled with laughter.
The clock struck twelve. Everything was set. Bhanu being the taller one volunteered to dress up as the ghost. With vermilion smeared over his forehead, a long pallu dragging behind and coal ash rubbed around eyes he looked every inch a Shankhchunni.
Mir accentuated his ghostly appearance by holding a lantern behind him, creating a paranormal halo. They headed towards Kanai master’s house. Just when they scurried across the last bent of road they heard a cry.
They stood aghast. It was the watchman.
“MADHOBILATAAA… MY LOVEEE… I KNEW YOU WOULD COME BACK…”
With both arms stretched he rushed towards them in a tipsy gait.
“Run… Run…” They didn’t remember who said whom, but both started running haphazardly. Bhanu was quick to regret his steps when his feet got tangled in the pallu and he tripped. The watchman caught up and wrapped his arm around him. Though Bhanu managed to set himself free, the wig remained in the watchman’s grip, who stared at it all perplexed.
Two days later at the Sitaharan play the elderly audience nodded disapprovingly. The younger men hurled rotten tomatoes and the kids including the mischievous duo giggled, as Sita’s diaphanus dupatta hardly concealed her crew-cut hair beneath.
Shankhchunni- it is believed when a married bengali lady with unfulfilled desires dies she becomes shankhchunni.
Dada- elder brother
Sitaharan- an episode from the epic Ramayana.
Pallu- loose end of a saree
Dupatta- a lengthy scarf worn with Indian attire.
Photo By: Unsplash
This is an entry for the event #twelve #Five00-10 at ArtoonsInn Writers Room.
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