Wood

I knock early on her door.
She thinks I’ve come to shout.
I show a plate of Thursday sweets.
Mother feels sorry about yesterday,
I tell her. Thanks for understanding.
She smiles her suspicious smile.
Two-three days it will take, she says.
What? I ask. The wood, she says.
What wood? I ask and she frowns.
The wood your mother wants
Me to remove from your yard.
But, I don’t understand, wait.
You’ve already removed them, no?
What? she asks. The wood, I say.
I haven’t removed any wood.
There’s no wood in our yard.

She rushes past me, past the door,
Past the street, past the cows,
Past our gate, and screams.
Where’s my wood? Where?
Mother walks out of our door.
Where’s the wood? she hears.
What wood? she asks and frowns.
Didn’t you remove it last night?
No, screams the woman. No.
Where is the wood? Tell me.
I woke up to find the yard empty,
Says Mother. I felt bad for shouting
At you yesterday. I made sweets
For you and your kids too. See?
I show her the plate of sweets.
She storms out and our Tulsi pot
Bends over to touch her feet.

She knocks on neighbours’ doors.
Where’s my wood? she asks them.
What wood? they ask and frown.
My wood in the Professors’ yard.
Ask them. Their yard. Your wood.
It’s too early for all this, no?
On a Margasira Thursday too.
My wood’s gone. Stolen. Gone.
She’s hiding it, yes. That’s right.
Them? Really? Really? Them?
Yes. She didn’t want it there, yes.
Your son graduated because of her.
She didn’t want the wood, yes.
She storms into our yard again.
No pots bend down to touch feet.
Where’s the wood? she screams.
Mother tells her she can come in
And search the whole place.
Just don’t scream, she pleads.
He’s still recovering. Please. Sshh.

I keep the neighbours at the gate.
They want to know what happened.
Someone stole her wood, one says.
What? another asks. The wood, I say.
What wood? he asks and frowns.
The wood she kept in our yard.
The wood your mother shouted about?
Same same. Gone this morning.
Overnight? Overnight. Shiva Shiva.
No sound or noise? Earphones, I show.
I didn’t hear anything, says one.
But we heard your bedding, says another.
All laugh. I smile. They see the sweets.
For her, I say. Of course, of course.
Just a little bit? Thursday prasad, no?
The plate empties itself. All, a little.

She empties out of the house, crying.
Shiva Shiva. Gone, all gone. Gone.
Stolen. Overnight. On a Thursday.
Why didn’t you lock your gate?
‘Cause you made a ruckus yesterday
When we did and you couldn’t
Get to your wood in the morning.
All gone now. On a Thursday.
You shouldn’t fight all the time,
One helpful neighbour helpfully says.
Shut up! My wood is gone now.
What if I enter your house and steal?
Our house, I say, but shut up again.
She looks at the empty faces all around.
I look at the empty plate. All gone.
I walk inside and lock the door.
Mother offers an opened box.
I pick up a sweet and take a bite.
No ghee, no sugar, yet so yum.
Grandma was right, I say.
Thursday sweets taste yummier
When cooked on a wood fire.