Poppet and Bullet wanted guava jam, but that meant a trip to the market to buy guavas. However, they got lucky as they found a fruit seller on their doorstep!
“Mona athai, I wish you’d make some yummy guava jam like last year,” said Poppet.
“And the guavas were luscious too,” added Bullet, “Chandran uncle’s garden is full of guavas but he is an old meanie!”
“Bullet, don’t call people names,” said Nita athai.
“But he is a meanie, Nita athai,” said Poppet, “Karthik’s school is next to his orchard and he said Chandran uncle doesn’t let anyone touch a single guava even if it falls outside the wall.”
“Karthik has no business to take guavas from other people’s gardens,” said Mona athai.
“Yes, but those guavas are special!” added Poppet.
That was perfectly true!
The guavas in Mr. Chandran’s garden were huge and said to be juicy and luscious. But he never shared them with anyone, not even neighbours or friends.
“I’ll get some guavas from the market tomorrow,” said Nita athai.
But as luck would have it she didn’t have to wait until tomorrow. Bullet came rushing in to say that there was a guava-seller at their doorsteps.
“Shall I call him?” asked Poppet eagerly.
“Yes, do. It will save a trip to the market,” said Nita athai.
A fellow limped in carrying a basketful of huge guavas, the best she had seen in years. “You have to buy the entire basket,” he said, looking behind him carefully, as if he expected someone to come and grab his basket. “Two hundred rupees.”
“That’s robbery!” cried Mona athai, “and who wants a basketful of guavas anyway? I just want a dozen.”
“It’s not robbery,” protested the seller, “you pay a fancy price for those wrapped imported apples, don’t you? And they are not half so fresh either! Anyway, the whole basket or nothing. Hurry up, I haven’t all day!”
“Please take them Mona athai,” pleaded Bullet, “we’ll finish them in no time.”
“We may as well take them,” said Mona athai, “I could make that jam.”
She paid the man, who limped out of the gate and rushed out at an incredible speed.
But the guavas vanished before you could say hey presto, which meant no jam.
The same fellow appeared a few days later and this time Nita athai bought the whole basket instantly. What intrigued them was that he seemed to be in a great hurry once again. “Give me the exact price,” he shouted, “I can’t wait.”
“I’m sure he has to catch a train,” suggested Poppet.
That evening as they picnicked on the lawn a stranger walked in suddenly. “Mr. Chandran!” said Nita athai, “Do come in.”
“Miss Nita, have got your adhar cards yet? I thought I’d ask you,” he said. His eyes fell on the huge bowl of jam, “Gorgeous jam!” he said. “My wife was going to make some too. But there’s a horrible sneak thief who steals all our guavas. He’s as slippery as an eel and I just can’t catch him. Fellow with a limp.”
“Oh!” said Mona athai in a faint voice, “please have a jam sandwich,”