When for three consecutive days the milk curdled while Meema, Salaama's wife, was boiling it she started dropping broad hints that something was fishy. Now of course if something was fishy it was the odour that emanated from her kitchen closets which have long been crying out for a cleaning. In fact it can be said with a degree of certainty that the milk was curdling because the utensils holding it had not been diligently cleaned but then if people accepted such simple truths then the world would be a much more peaceful (and dull!) place. Add to this the fact that Meema's youngest daughter gave her two sleepless nights because she had a particularly nasty attack of colic. The colic could have easily been ascribed to a chicken patty of doubtful vintage which Meema had forgotten about and which the little one had gobbled down on the sly but again that would be too simplistic. Then of course there was the dream too.
In this dream that Meema had during her disturbed sleep the night that her youngest had a colic, a pitch black dog had jumped over the fence from Golama's side. After making several rounds of Salaama's house the black dog had emerged with a struggling pigeon in its mouth of which it had proceeded to make a bloody meal. As Meema zoomed in on the bloody mess of the struggling pigeon in her dream she was horrified to see that somehow it was she who was the pigeon. She had woken up to find herself drenched in sweat and for a horrible moment she thought that the sticky sweat was blood! The dream or rather the nightmare left no place for doubt. So that when Salaama complained to Meema at dinner time that the potatoes she had served him were overdone and the gravy tasted funny she burst out, "What do you expect! It is that witch Haseena, Golama's wife! That evil eye of hers and I am sure she is visiting some practitioner of black magic to harm us! Everything seems to be going wrong!"
"I will tear out her eyes!" Salaama growled and proceeded to loyally consume the unpalatable fare of burnt potatoes with an almost patriotic favour.
"Huh…I know how to deal with her!" Meema said with a determined set of her mouth.
At this moment I realize that I haven't introduced my characters to the reader yet. You might be familiar with the two if last week you visited these very columns but in case you did not let me hasten to add that you didn't miss much. It was after all a depiction of something that happens every other day, that's a flare-up of hostilities between the perennially warring neighbors, Salama and Golama. The two (and of course their families as well!) are sworn enemies and mostly because of this willow tree that grows where their properties meet and which both of them claim as their own. From time to time Salaama's poultry couple and Golama's rakish goat have been accused of infiltrating across the boundary fence with a mission to destroy life (plant life that is!) as well as property. In fact that is what had caused a mighty flare-up last week. Things had cooled down since but the baseline hostility continues like always. Now to be honest that is quite convenient actually. Like when Hassina's son failed in 'middle' the blame was conveniently put on Meema's Evil eye. Similarly when Meema's eldest daughter made an unsuccessful bid of eloping with the Barber's assistant Meema announced that it had been Hassina's evil machinations (black-magic performed using her innocent daughter's lock of hair!) that had almost caused the innocent girl's ruin.
Returning back to our narrative, later in the day a determined Meema went by a circuitous route to see Pir sahib. Pir sahib lived some distance away from the village and had a reputation of having mastered all the evil sciences and also enslaving 1947 Djinns who would do his bidding. Pir sahib heard Meema's story and ponderously shook his head. "You are in grave danger but you have come to the right place!" he said. He handed over a bunch of dried chillies to Meema instructing her to burn them near the boundary fence.
When the pungent fumes wafted over to Golama's house, Hassina at once got alerted to the danger. It was her turn to visit Pir sahib. Pir sahib shook his head ponderously and said, "You are in grave danger but you have come to the right place!" Hassina came back carrying a dead fish with a piece of paper wrapped around a nail that had been rammed down the fish's gullet and as instructed got it nailed in the dead of the night to the willow tree on Salaama's side. Of course the fish was soon discovered by a vigilant son of Salaama. It was torn down and dispatched post-haste to Pir sahib.
"They are up to no good! Blood has to be spilt! Blood of some living thing dear to you if you want to spare your children's blood! Then nothing they do will bother you and your dear ones" Pir sahib declared. After much consultation Salaama slaughtered his goat and sent the mortal remains to Pir sahib for whatever magical procedure he thought fit to use them for.
The hectic activity in Salam's house gave Hassina ample reason to feel anxious and so she again went to see Pir sahib. "They are up to no good! Blood has to be spilt! Blood of some living thing dear to you if you want to spare your children's blood! Then nothing they do will bother you and your dear ones!" Pir sahib declared ominously with a fierce scowl on his face. After deliberations the Rooster and the Hen were slaughtered and sent to Pir sahib for whatever magic he could work with the offering.
Pir sahib had a hearty feast his digestion being no less than magical and the two families went about with smug smiles secure in the thought that they had won the battle…till next time that is!
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at firstname.lastname@example.org)