Wednesday 24 May 2017 News Updated at 11:05 AM IST
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Meet the hell in helmet - Deccan Herald
Meet the hell in helmet
Nuggehalli Pankaja,
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One morning, the doorbell rang and rang. Flustered, I opened it gingerly. Thank god, it was no daytime robber, but my nephew. "Auntie? Please, can I take uncle’s helmet for a minute? There are policemen at every corner, and will take me straight to lockup. Please auntie,” he requested.

"Uncle has not yet bought a helmet,” I lied to him - had to, for my husband had come to treasure his helmet like the Kohinoor. Evidently, the youngster saw through me. "Come on, auntie,” he chided me, "I saw him with one on just the day before yesterday!” And laughed. I too laughed. "Oh, that? He had borrowed it from the neighbour.” "Can you borrow it again, for me, please?” he cajoled.

"How can I? That neighbour had borrowed it from his girlfriend, and she, in turn, from her boyfriend, and he from...” I began, but, turning on his heels he left before I could find a suitable ending to my extempore story. "Hey!” I called out from the balcony, "Why don’t you demand a helmet along with the varapuja suit, instead of the traditional Mysore peta? Your marriage is fixed, I hear?”

"Good idea!” The boy called back, like one enlightened. "I’ll instruct all my friends to do the same, otherwise, helmet harassments, like dowry deaths, may follow.”

Just then, in stepped my food caterer with his tiffin carrier, and close on his heels, a cop! "He has slapped 300 rupees fine upon me for not wearing the kirita!” the caterer started weeping straightaway. "'Pay immediately, or go to jail’ he is threatening! Can you give me a loan? If I go to jail, god knows when they’ll let me out; poor amma, what’ll you do for food? I’m more worried about you than about my jail sentence,” he went on.

Yes, what would I do? I had forgotten what little of cooking I knew. Panic-stricken, I doled out the money. But, did it stop there?

"I must have a helmet by tomorrow morning,” the caterer wept more, after heaping abuses upon the creator of the kaliyuga kirita, "if not, the same story will repeat.” Yes, I did become a pauper in those 10 minutes! 'Will he really buy the helmet, or a saree for his wife?’ I wondered. But the next morning, the caterer had a helmet on, and strutted in like a knight.

"I’m afraid to leave my dear helmet anywhere, even for a second,” he confided, and continued, "It has become as precious as gold; do you know, amma, burglars are breaking into houses just to steal helmets? That’s why I wear it even at home. And at night, I keep it safely in the locker. Else, my brother-in-law may filch it. One has to be careful with wife’s brothers, you know.

They know the art of swindling.” Don’t I know? Barely had the man left, my neighbour’s wife burst in, all in pieces. Now what? "Just a month back I had it made - the heavy gold chain. Cost me so much! I had shown it to you, right? I had invested all my savings in it for my daughter’s marriage next month. And some rogue who came on a scooter snatched it. What shall I do? Where will I get the money to have another gold chain made?” Incoherent words coming through grief and anger against the thief.

"Didn’t you complain to the police?” I questioned.

"I did. They asked for the usual details - how he looked etc, and asked me if I could identify him; How can I, when he had that helmet on?” she wailed.

"Yes, really, all of them look the same. I fail to recognise even my husband.”