this happened on tuesday. and it was all very filmi.
the three hours that we were away from home watching a movie that did not rise to our expectations anyway. the 20-minute diversion we took on the way home, to buy milk and yoghurt for the next morning. arriving home to find nothing unusual or out of place for a long time. until we went upstairs and noticed one of the pillow covers in the bedroom missing.
i thought it strange. i am the only one at home who changes the pillow and bed-covers, yet it was unlike me to leave one on and one without. my mother then noticed a lone gold earring on the carpet. i came in to check, her tone had sounded like “how could you be so careless, leaving gold lying about the place…”, and i too was curious now – i don’t change my earrings for months. this one was missing its pair.
my heartbeats racing, i opened the wardrobe. a storm had been inside, the contents ravaged about, bangle-boxes lay open or turned upside down. the only jewel case in my possession, which had contained my wedding gifts from friends and family – rings, gold chains, bangles and four tiny earrings, stared me in the face, absolutely maroon, velvet, and empty.
after a visit by the police, and a sleepless night, i walked in the garden again, trying to re-trace the burglar’s steps. how did he come in? how long had he been watching us, to strike at the time when the house was empty? was he english? was he asian? this was considered a ‘safe’ area…was he a ‘she’? were there more than one…? no footprints, nothing to show who it was. the plants, the flowers in the garden, the four very expressive wooden-figure-musicians in the house, the male and female dancing-rajasthani-puppets hanging by the porch door – witnesses all – remain silent in spite of my pleas.
i believe the worst is over, perhaps…
but what bothers is not the gold that was taken away. i rarely used them; i never had a fondness for jewelry anyway. it bothers me that these were precious gifts, blessings for the day we got married. it bothers me that i had to bring them with me much against my wishes almost four years ago, only to lose them this way.
it bothers me that a bulky and ugly black pouch, containing lots of feel-good-accessories i was deeply attached to, should attract the thief’s attention. in it were colourful glass and lac bangles, red and green and mirrored ones, silver anklets and toe-rings precious to me. precious not for their monetary value, but as moments i treasured. moments with my sister when i picked the bangles, the many shops we stopped at in mumbai, the fuss, the dilemmas, the giggles. the dreams. some clips and hairbands, crocin tablets (nothing else stops my head from splitting). about fifty or so bindis i had handpicked for every occasion. not that there are many when you are in an ‘english’-locality london.
it bothers me that a camcorder we recently purchased, after three years of waiting “for the right moment” should disappear so quickly. when we had not even begun to use it yet. along with it my kolhapuri hand-purse, with all the essential plastic and paper moneys inside.
it bothers me that in a nation that is quite “rich and developed”, this repeatedly happens to people who are generally classified as those coming from a “poor and developing country”. it bothers me that getting rid of “the indicator on the front door” – the colourful toran, will make me seemingly less-indian. it bothers me that i am even given this suggestion, twice by well-meaning people. it bothers me that none of the (four) english neighbours around our house, except our new sri lankan friends next door, knocked to enquire about what happened that night.
my heart is still racing. it bothers me that a perfect stranger has walked in my house, uninvited. it bothers me when i think… i think he will visit again.