(Published in Deccan Heral, dated 06 Dec 2017)
Revenge of the chipkali
By Brig A N Suryanarayanan
During a hot summer afternoon in 1976, the Commanding Officer's wife, all decked up as the chief guest of the Inter-Company Kabaddi match, was seated next to him. She was to distribute the prizes. But soon, there was shaking and lifting of the sari followed first by a small 'ooie' and ending with long 'oooooies', leading to raised eyebrows and an admonition: "Keep quiet! What is wrong with you?"
Her screams distracted the teams that were playing quite close by, prompting the referee to stop the game. The lady hitched up her sari and shouting more 'ooies' ran to the tented ladies toilet. It fell on the gallant second-in-command to find out what was wrong. Saying "excuse me," he entered the tent and beheld the first lady, with half her sari lying on the ground and half still at waist. The culprit was a lizard (chipkali) between her petticoat and the sari. It was slowly moving upwards but she managed to brush it off. The brave 2IC then stamped it with his foot, came out and smartly reported to the CO, all in three minutes. The net result was a new sari for the lady!
Forty years later and after a recent back surgery, one Sunday morning, the paratrooper-colonel (now long retired) was picking up the newspapers from his doorstep, when he noticed a little black creature creeping into the house. He bent down to swat it with the newspapers and chase it away silently (as the wife was sleeping). But he fell down thrice and missed his target, too. No longer able to keep his balance on one foot, he was on the floor now, crawling to find the creature that had moved near the kitchen.
At this point, he hollered for the wife to come quick, who grumbled, "Even on a Sunday you won't let me sleep!" When the lady came out, the soldier, lying flat on his stomach on the mosaic floor, asked her to grab the papers which were in a mess by now, and swat that disobedient little crawly before it went behind the gas range. "You do it," she said, but how could he from the floor? She agreed reluctantly and, luckily, swatted it soon.
The colonel, still on the floor, told her to slide it onto the paper and throw it out. Once the task was complete, she attempted to pick him up from the floor, but failed. He then tried to stand up with the support of the legs of the dining chair, to no avail. So, he crawled to the drawing room and finally managed to pull himself onto the double sofa and lay down.
Meanwhile, the water purifier, which he had turned on before the newspaper errand, was still running. When he dared mention it to the wife a few minutes later, she threw him a dirty look. After resting for a few minutes on the sofa, the colonel stood up and walked to the bedroom.
All's well that ends well. It was the wife's turn to get him something this time. But no such luck, for she was on her way to upgrade her mobile soon. The chipkali had had its revenge after 40 years!