That Mrs.Thakur was fond of reading would be an understatement. An avid reader since childhood, encouraged by her grandfather who was a closet writer himself, reading was a family legacy at her parents house.On the right side of their building was an huge old bungalow occupied by an old Parsi couple. They lived alone as both their two sons were settled in the States and could manage to visit the old parents once in an year. The household comprised of a a nurse cum companion for the invalid Mr.Mehta. They also had a cook who stayed close by and came twice a day to cook and clean and a watchman cum gardener.
Gradually, it became a routine for both the two ladies to sip their morning cup of tea in their respective balconies around the same time and chitchat. They both used to look forward to their "Me Time" together in midst of clear skies, piping hot cups of tea and lovely conversations. On days when the weather would be cold or windy or it would rain heavily, they would sit sipping their respective ginger teas and wave to each other and share a smile or laugh.
Both were totally addicted to their morning teas. It was interesting to note that though both were tea lovers, their method of tea preparation was totally different.
She would boil 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup of milk together, complete with its cream. Sugar and grated ginger would be added. She would add slight cardomom powder and a pinch of nutmeg powder to it, giving it delicious taste and aroma. After it boiled, tea powder would be added and it would be removed from heat.
After the tea leaves settled down, she would strain the mixture using filter and her garama garam masala chai (piping hot tea) was ready to be savored.
That day Mrs.Thakur was extremely happy as it was Sunday and she had decided to invite both Mr and Mrs.Mehta over for dinner that night. She felt that it would be nice outing for both of them and they both were wanting to sample the lovely cooking of Mrs.Thakur since quite some time. She finished her morning chores in a hurry and prepared a lovely cup of tea for herself and sat by her favorite easy chair. She glanced at Mrs.Mehta's balcony and saw that Mrs.Mehta's tea cup was already kept on the table. She would see the steam emerging from her tea cup and knew that Mrs.Mehta must be coming soon, as she loved to have her tea while it was steaming hot.
Mrs.Thakur finished her cup of tea after waiting for sometime, but there was no sign of Mrs.Mehta."How strange" she thought to herself and called out to her maid to go across to the next bungalow and check on the Mehta family. "God forbid"she thought, "I just hope neither of them has fallen sick" Her maid returned back saying the house was locked."Madam, maybe they have gone out" her maid told her.
Mrs.Thakur asked her maid if she checked with the watchman but the maid replied that the watchman was nowhere to be seen and had probably taken the day off. Meanwhile their cook, who had also just come for work, was returning back after seeing the locked door.
Mrs.Thakur was thoughtful. She was sure that something was wrong somewhere.If Mr and Mrs.Mehta had to go out or leave the house, why should Mrs.Mehta prepare her piping hot cup of tea and place it by the window."No,I must get to the bottom of this matter at once"Mrs.Thakur said aloud.
She called her husband who was at home, it being Sunday and told him everything. She insisted on him telephoning the police station despite his protests."I think you are being hasty in calling the police" Mr.Thakur said calmly, "Just because of one cup of hot tea, you think something is wrong.I know you read lot of detective fiction and so you think that in reality also, you can be a super sleuth,but I think you are plainly over interfering in their lives. Maybe they had to go away for something urgent and Mrs.Mehta forgot about her cup of tea in the window.She is after all getting in age, you know" he tried his best to reason out with her.But Mrs.Thakur was not in a mood to relent. Once she had felt something was amiss, she knew that she could not rest until she got to the bottom of the matter herself.
Finally, after much deliberation, she dialed the number of the nearest police station herself and spoke to the inspector on duty explaining the problem while urging him to come urgently.
The inspection,Mr.Kamat came immediately with his force and heard her out. Like her husband, even he thought she was being hasty in calling the police but he agreed to go next door and investigate the matter. After an hour and lots of screaming and shouting coming from next door, they received a phone call from Mr.Kamat, inviting them to come next door as the matter was resolved. Mrs.Thakur hurriedly ran with her husband next door and saw the Inspector sitting with frightened looking Mr and Mrs.Mehta.
"Thank you so much"Mrs.Mehta practically shouted with happiness on seeing Mrs.Thakur"You saved our lives"
Mr.Kamat explained that when he went next door, he saw that there was a big lock on the main door and the watchman was nowhere in sight. They broke the lock and on opening the main door,they saw that the nurse cum companion and her accomplice were threatening Mr and Mrs.Mehta with knife. They had planned on robbing the old couple on the watchman's day off. The nurse had locked the main door from outside, to prevent anyone from entering the house to help the Mehtas, while she herself entered the house through the back door.
Both Mr and Mrs.Mehta were shocked and frightened and felt betrayed by their own nurse. When Mrs.Mehta tried to resist, they pulled knives and were threatening both of them. Just then the police broke the door and caught them.
"I can't thank you enough, Mrs.Thakur" Mrs.Mehta said, hugging Mrs.Thakur tightly, in choked voice and eyes brimming in tears ."We both were scared out of our wits"she added.
Both Mr and Mrs.Mehta as well as the inspector,Mr.Kamat praised Mrs.Thakur handsomely for calling the police in nick of time, resulting in not just preventing the robbery but also ensuring the safety of Mr and Mrs.Mehta. Mrs. Thakur beamed happily accepting all the praises showered on her,completely thankful that the old couple were safe and sound.
"But I don't understand" Mr.Kamat wondered aloud to Mrs. Thakur,"how were you so sure that something was wrong?"
"Oh, that" explained Mrs.Thakur, " Well, I and Mrs. Mehta have a habit of drinking hot tea at around the same time everyday in the morning. When I came to my balcony today, I saw that Mrs.Mehta's cup of tea was already kept on her table. She must have just placed it there because I could see the steam coming out of the cup.When she did not come even after a long time to drink her tea, I instinctively knew something was amiss".
Mrs.Mehta nodded and said, "Yes, I had prepared my usual cup of tea and kept it on the table. Just then the nurse called me downstairs and when I came down, I saw that she and her accomplice were already threatening Mr. Mehta and planning to rob our house and take all our belongings."
"Kudos to you, Mrs.Thakur.You were simply brilliant"complimented Mr.Kamat.Turning to Mr.Thakur,he went on to say further, "Mr.Thakur, I must compliment your wife. She is extremely alert and very sharp. You must be very proud of her today.""Of course, I am very proud of her, not just today but always" smiled Mr.Thakur, looking at his wife fondly.
Mr.Kamat promised to investigate the matter deeply and see that the miscreants were punished. He also placed some policemen as security outside their bungalow.
Mrs.Thakur invited Mr and Mrs.Mehta as well as the inspector, Mr.Kamat and their team for tea to her house. After reaching their house,Mrs.Thakur teased her husband," So, Mr.Thakur, what did you say, just because of one cup of tea?" . Mr.Thakur laughed aloud and accepted his defeat graciously,"Yes, my own Ms.Marple, I owe you an apology for doubting on your sleuthing skills. It's difficult to believe that so much can happen only because of one cup of tea. Let's celebrate this occasion with your special masala tea.Here's to one cup of tea."
This is my entry for "Of Chalks and Chopsticks" started by Aqua, hosted by Bong Mom's CookBook this month.
The Picture: The Picture that you see in this post is from Bong Mom's CookBook and was our cue for this month's entry.
For details about this whole concept check here