Sky High with this New Drug

Fiction — Short Story

Its 6.45 in the evening and its getting dark. Purandar packed his cobbler tools into a loaded plastic cover, crumpled it and held it under his armpits, walked a few meters along the sideway and stopped by Baburao Appa.

“So Appa, how much did you earn today” asked the 50 something Purandar to the 70 something Appa who was also packing his cobbler tools into a jute bag. As Appa finished putting the hammer into the bag, he looked at Purandar and said, “Today was a bad day, its just Four Rupees”

Baburao Appa and Purandar are father in-law son in-law cobblers. Its just a few months back that they opted for this new profession, since they had lost their job at a local Scrap dealer — Agrawal Metal Depo.

Appa learnt the art of mending footwear from the late Ganpat, who was Appa’s colleague in the same scrapyard. They used to straighten up tangled metal junks by hammering them for hours together. During their lunch hours, Ganpat would give theoretical training to Appa and Purandar, whose job in the scrapyard was to load and unload junk off the trucks.

Ganpat’s forefathers were reputed cobblers in the then sparsely populated town where they could count the number of people on the road as they used to walk their way around the town.

“Only 3 people walked up this slope today and four of them down” said a depressed Appa “none of them with broken footwear. These days the shapes and designs of their footwear are so scary that if someone were to come to me for repair I would have to blatantly refuse them” Purandar gets down in a squatting posture.

He folds his hands around his knees and hears Appa with interest “I wonder how we will earn our livelihood, our jobs are gone, no business in this cobblers profession, I feel like hammering my head” Purandar laughs waving his hands in denial saying “No one will buy that either” “Buy what?” shrugged Appa.

The giggling Purandar said “No one will buy your hammered head if you sold as junk, not even Agrawal Bhai” Appa lightens up and grinningly looks at Purandar asking him how much did he earn.

“All put together, I earned a meagre Ten rupees. I stitched a broken umbrella rod, glued plastic slippers of a small girl, and then I fixed a new shoe lace into one stinking shoe”

“Now..what are we supposed to do…what will we give home” a concerned Appa questions Purandar. Purandar picks up a stone and etches some number on the sidewalk concrete and says “We will have Three rupees to take home” Confused Appa now starts counting on his fingers as the halogen street lamps that glows in gradually, revealing his dirty soiled palm and wrinkled sagging skin beneath it. “What rubbish! We would require and additional Six rupees first and then over that an additional Three Rupees which we can give back at home.”

As Appa was getting the maths right, Purandar pulls out a sticker peeled bottle of Sprite from his loaded packet. It had half filled water in it. “We don’t require any more money Appa. I’ll fix this for tonight” Purandar gets up hurridly and walks past Appa and says “I’ll be right back”

Minutes passby and by now the Halogen light is in its full power, lightening up the entire street and the sidewalk under which Appa anxiously waits for Purandar. A few minutes later he sees Purandar who walks down the slope donning a pair of socks, who went up the slope barefooted. Purandar walks down with his hands swinging rapidly with a sense of achievement and pride. 
 He then pulls off the socks, grins at Appa for once, and then pulls out a small red box from his shirt pocket. He then opens the bottle in it, teases its nozzle under his nose and places it on the ground before smiling at the now puzzled Appa. Purandar hurriedly makes lumps of the pair of socks and places them next to the bottle. 
 He picks up the opened bottle and dabs it a couple of times into each of the socks lumps. The now empty bottle goes into Purandars pocket who now looks at Appa and says “That bottle is worth Five Paisa in scrap, with its plastic cap Six Paisa” Appa is now getting agitated at his son-in-laws theories and alien act.

Purandar hands over the lump of socks to Appa and says “Inhale it Appa, this is your liquor for the day” immediately after which Purandar snuffs the socks close to his nose taking deep breaths. Appa follows Purandar’s actions and loves the kick he got in one snuff.

The dazed Purandar enjoys the sight of Appa who by now repeatedly snuffs the socks and grins with droopy eyes. Appa loosing his sense of gravity falls backward hitting his head onto the sidewalk concrete.

The in-trance Purander looks at Appa and sings “This is the new drug for us from now on, the Correction Whitener Ink, we can save a lot to give home and earn the whole sky to fly.”

Purander lies next to Appa and whispers into his ears “That’s how we got saved three Rupees for home, without spending the usual Twenty Rupees on Deccan Ki Rani(Queen of Deccan). We will never have to spend on that Rani anymore”

‘Deccan Ki Rani’ (Queen of Deccan)was the country liquor brand that these in-laws were addicted to daily for the last thirty years of their then formed relationship. They would not want to give-up on their daily dose of their quarter. But today they could not afford it.

Purander learnt of this new found drug, when he overheard a conversation between his daughter in law and son Amit who was working as a clerk in the same scrapyard. Amit told his wife Manjiri to keep the bottle of Whitener Ink away from their 3 year old son Sachin, “… it would make the kid dizzy. Be careful, otherwise Sachin will act like his grandfather when hes back after work”

The now high and lost Appa looks straight into the halogen light, trying to open his eyes. “Purandar, your head will go for more money than this drug is worth..I love you Puran..derrr..berr.derrr…”

Appa kisses now a speechless Purander on his forehead and stuffs the socks into his mouth and continues the in amuted tone ‘..Puranderr..derr..berr..berr..”

And then from nearby rings a temple bell, with the chorus chants of prayers.

Hi, I’m a music director/composer/producer from India and work for films, television series, television commercials / advertisements, jingles, video games, musicals and concerts. Here through my series of This Life Happens, i intend to share the simplest of stories that I get inspired from, hoping it’ll inspire yours too. 
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