One of the first people we had the pleasure of meeting after we moved into our new home in the ‘gunj, was a lady by the name of…let’s call her Norma Nickles. Norma, was a sprightly senior with snow-white, well coiffed hair who lived about a kilometer and a half from our home which was a little less than half way between her house and the local Catholic church.
One fine Sunday morning, after the good Catholic Christians of the ‘gunj went to church, Norma Nickles stopped by our house just to visit, and casually inquire as to the cause of our absence from church. We had just sat down to breakfast in our open porch, and etiquette demanded that we invite her to partake. Ms. Nickles enjoyed breakfast at our home tremendously. Between generous helpings of apricot and guava jams, and fresh honey on buttered bread and sips of coffee, she happily nattered on about life in the gunj, her important presence, her early and pretty, and important years etc, and then, well fortified, she left.
And the next Sunday she was back.
And the Sunday after that.
By now we had moved our Sunday breakfast venue into our dining room, hoping that Norma Nickles would get the hint, but she was either as thick as a brick or shameless and cunning. Knowing her, I am betting on the latter.
By the fourth Sunday Ms. Nickles had come to think that we were her free breakfast ticket, and by now started to order me around. ‘Be a darling and refill the honey jar, dearie,’ she would say. Never mind that we had purposefully kept the jar only half full because she was very generous with her helpings of everything. While we took a small spoon of jam, our ‘guest’ heaped several spoonfuls atop her generously buttered slice of toast. We weren’t rich, and these little joys were dear and hard to get since the local store didn’t carry them. To buy these things we had to travel to the nearest town and that was a trip which happened rarely and required an entire day! At least we made the butter at home.
After several Sundays like this my mother had had enough. So she devised a plan which was promptly executed the very next Sunday.
Ms. Norma Nickles punctually appeared at 10:30 AM after Sunday mass and sat on our green bench in our open porch, no doubt expecting to be summoned in to enjoy her breakfast. As instructed by my wily mother she was met by me, and I kept her chatting while my parents ate breakfast. Then my father came out, and I went in to eat while he ‘entertained’ our increasingly irate ‘guest.’ After a while, when my father went back inside, and my mother came out, it became clear to Norma Nickles that she was not going to get her free luxury breakfast this Sunday, nor, likely ever again. She let loose a verbal barrage about how rude we were, and that she had never ever been treated like this, and on and on. My mother just calmly smiled, wished her a pleasant morning and went back into the house, leaving a red-faced and one would think rather hungry Norma Nickles ranting and raving her way home.
She didn’t come back the next Sunday, or ever again after that.