In our home in a remote mountain village – where even two houses are called a village – I was the first child of my father, who was the first child of his father. We grew up listing to classic Hindi music. Our home was divided into two – the ladies hated the blaring noise my cousin’s stereo made, whereas the men liked it.
I, I liked to pull tape out of the old cassettes. For two reasons – one, it was fun putting it back into the cassette. Second, in case I was unable to put the reel back, the mess created would be my revenge on my cousin, whom I hated so much.
I would tie a piece of the tape to the tree under which I hid my illegal things – candies, toys, and coins stolen from my mother’s purse; she never came to know that someone was stealing her savings, anyways. The first time I dig open the candies, the ants had stolen them all. Next time I made a larger hole, still the candies were gone. I wondered who informed the ants about the candies. At first, I thought some divine power was watching me from the sky above, and I was getting punished for my ill deeds. Next time I waited for the dark clouds to appear in the sky before I could hide the candies. Still, they were gone.
I kept changing the trees, but the ants were everywhere. Now, I had to find the thief who tipped the ants. How else could they find the location when the candies were buried deep under the soil? This time, under the suspicion was my cousin; fearing whom I kept the candies outside the house.
One day, I saw him making a hole in the ground. This was it. I had caught the candy thief. But wait! This isn’t the place where I hid my candies. So what was he doing here?
Then, he pulled out a new coin out of his pocket and buried it under the soil. After he was gone, I opened the hole, and there it was, shining like a bright star, a coin that could buy me more candies than I had lost to the thief.
This time, I bought a pocket full of candies, and ate them all.
After all, the ants were everywhere, and they were friends with the candy thief.
© Image credit: bugiri