The plan had been executed flawlessly and as Pisharadi trembled in the fields, the boys struggled hard to stifle their laughter. The gang split in different directions as soon as Pisharadi lost consciousness and someone went to inform the nearest house about an old man who had fainted in the fields.
Kannan and Chinnan ran towards the kadavu in lightning speed. The cousins were now down on their knees and laughing incessantly that their stomachs began to hurt. Kannan felt strangely proud of himself for having come up with such a foolproof plan. He knew that Pisharadi would certainly turn up for the thaiyyam and what better way to scare a lonely man in the fields than this. Murali the culprit in the scarecrow’s guise had done his part beautifully. He being the tallest among the gang members had been the natural choice. And the way Pisharadi shivered, the thought of it was enough for the boys to laugh all over again. Tired after all the excitement Kannan gasped and looked beside at Chinnan who had suddenly become silent, he looked worried and Kannan could guess why.
“Don’t worry Chinnan, he’ll be fine, he just got scared and fainted I am sure he must have regained his composure by now and become his old bitter self,” reassured Kannan.
“Yes,” replied Chinnan unconvincingly.
“You know O.G apoopan will be home this week,” said Kannan faking an excited tone to take Chinnan’s mind of the Pisharadi issue.
“Really?” asked Chinnan, who was now suddenly very interested
His intentions having worked Kannan smiled and continued, “Yes. Why don’t you come and stay over this vacation?”
Chinnan looked doubtful, sensing his concerns Kannan assured, “Its fine, you don’t have to worry about grandmother, and you can snake in as you always do; besides appoopan and mother are on our side, right.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the approaching boat.
“Thoni, thoni,” called out Ayappan as the boat neared the bank.
“Well then I guess I’ll come tomorrow,” said Kannan moving off.
“We’ll meet tomorrow in the morning at Bomanchery. The gang is planning of holding a skit this festival. I better run off now, I had faked a headache to get away from the temple. I need to be home before mother returns,” said Kannan.
Kannan bade goodnight to Chinnan as he got into the boat towards home. He was very happy and excited about the vacation ahead. He was also looking forward to the spicy gossip that Janu would come up with the next day about the incident in the fields.
He gently put his hands in the water and scooping up a little said, “We are going to have fun this summer isn’t it?”
“Did you say something?” asked Ayappan.
“No, just goodnight,” said Kannan with a very wide smile and jumped off the boat that had now reached the bank.
He stole into the house not wanting to disturb his grandmother, who he was sure would be napping in her room after the day’s work. Finding her easy chair empty, he jumped at the opportunity to lie in it. Closing his eyes he wondered what he would do till mother came home. Suddenly he had a naughty idea; it was the perfect opportunity to check out his grandfather’s gun room as no one was around. Using the spare key his mother kept in her dressing table drawer he opened the door slowly. Turning the lights on, he walked stealthily into it staring at the exquisite collection. He was so awestruck that he did not see the small box in the middle and almost tripped over it causing the small musket in the corner to slide and fall as he leaned against it for balance.
“Who is there?” asked Janakiamma, who had obviously been woken up by the sound
Kannan quickly put the musket back in its place and locked the door in a jiffy putting the key in the drawer of his table. He then got under the sheet just in time that when Janakiamma got to the room it seemed to her that he had been sleeping all the while.
“Must be that accursed cat stealing milk,” she mumbled as she moved towards the kitchen. Sensing her depart, Kannan left out a sigh and turned over on the bed to face the ceiling while he contemplated about the plans for the following day. Slowly he fell into a deep slumber; it must have been late midnight when he was woken up by a deep guttural laughter. The door of his room was slightly ajar and he could see the end of his mother’s sari moving about in the wind, he could make out his grandfather’s voice; O.G. appoopan must be back he thought, he wanted to get up and meet him but he felt very tired and sleepy.
“Tomorrow,” he said and went back to sleep again.