If you think this blog is even remotely connected to Markus Zusak – you are wrong!
This blog is dedicated to the sole irritant of my usually extremely pleasant early morning me-time. He is the “Flower Thief” .
Every morning this “respectable” middle-aged man sets off on an early morning walk with many others in my street / neighbourhood.As the unsuspecting morning walkers give him a nod of familiarity this shrewd observer smiles, carries on a bit of a polite chit-chat, and continues his walk in his traditional shirt and veshti. Do not be fooled. For behind those ear-mufflers which protect you from the morning cold are sharp ears – that wait for your retreating foot steps. And behind those glasses (which I presumed were prescribed for myopia) lies razor sharp vision.
And once you are out of vision – this frail man springs into action. He waits a moment – sizes up the houses with gardens. And then the plants that branch out of the compound. He then zeroes in on a couple of unlucky victims. Then he looks around. (Doesn’t spot me yet!)
And very slowly he takes out a plastic bag that seems to unfold into a rather huge “flower-container”. As I watch aghast – he takes out a long stick (convenient instrument) a la Tom Cruise (in any Mission Impossible :P) and hooks it around a slender branch, laden with flowers – and starts STEALING!
Once he moves from house to house – you can see the thief leaves his signature behind. Denuded plants. Where once you saw beautiful white flowers akin to the jasmine – all I see now is barren green leaves. No more blood -red shoe-flowers to contrast the leafy green background. Did you see the bright yellow flowers that catch your attention from afar? Not now! Silently the flower-thief goes about his work, removing all pretty sights that would otherwise be a visual treat when you return from your morning walk.
But what is interesting – is that the flower thief decided to make his trademark move yesterday in my house. As I was lost in my own thoughts in the early morning, ensconced from public eye in my balcony and enjoying the cool weather that Chennai suddenly seems to offer us – I was disturbed by violent movements in the plant in my house. As I watched again – the leaves moved more disturbingly, and the flower-laden plant suddenly seemed to bend in a really sharp arc towards the compound.
Shocked out of my reverie – I went to the gate, opened it noiselessly and saw the flower-thief. Now, enough of the silent treatment – I decided. “What are you doing?” – That was my opening sentence. The man was jolted out of his intense concentration. He stared back at me – obviously thinking of a plausible answer/excuse (none of which I can assure you – would have effect in the current situation )
“Taking some flowers” – was his answer.
“But those are our flowers” – my retort
“I’m taking it for prayer” – his response.
(Can you not sense my contempt here? )
“But those are our flowers” -I repeat.
“It’s just for prayer” – he mumbles
“But those are our flowers” – I say again.
(Deafening silence as he continues staring at me, wondering how can I not understand his point of view).
“Give them to me” – I say
He cannot believe what he heard just now. Give it back?
Did he hear it right?
Was I actually saying the words he was hearing?
Very reluctantly he said – “I have flowers from other places too!” Which translates to, dear people – “how do you expect me to separate my efforts that went into robbing just your house? I’ve put equal effort into robbing every house! “
I’m sorry to sound temperamental or impolite- but it took quite all my effort not to slap the person standing in front of me [looking like a person who works in a bank, who dines out with his family, who reads out stories to his grandchildren, and retires in the evening with crossword in the newspaper.] Maybe my cliched imagination is the reason I get so shocked or disturbed by the happenings around me.
For those of you who want to know how this episode ended – it ended with my family members deciding that social etiquette was more important than me confronting the thief. I was called inside – before I launched into one of my verbal tirades. My father gave the guy a stern warning. Man-to-man.
I guess it works – for the flowers in my house are spared, though I cannot say the same for the others in my street. I still see the man every morning -talking with the security guard of the opposite house (The thief and security in conversation! – where do you get to see sights like that?) . I choose to ignore him. And he chooses to stare at me till I sense his wrath in the back of my head
But I’m smiling…
Flower thief, about you – I just do not care
For, when I’m back – my flowers are all still there! 🙂