This is a true story. At least I would like to believe that.
I think I was ten years old that summer.
I had gone to my grandmother's house for the holidays.
My granny's house was not a rich one.
The house was old and it would be full of water in the rains.
We used to spread the mattresses on the ground and sleep.
But still , I used to think of my grandmother's house as the most luxurious house.
There was everything I needed in that house. One tree full of guavas and another full of mangos in the summer. A backyard where there were gardening tools and no one to tell you to not to create any mess. Pockets full of nuts and jaggery. A swing hanging on the banyan tree. What else could anyone ask for? I felt I was the richest person on earth.
Every year my brother used to go to my uncle's place with my mother and I used to come here.
My mother used to separate me and my brother on purpose. It was much easier to manage us that way.
But this time she was going to have another baby and so she had gone to my uncle's house alone, and my brother and i had come here with our grandmother.
My grandmother was a tough woman but it was difficult even for her to handle our fights.
We would fight over the stupidest matters.
It could be anything from climbing the tree to swimming in the well. I wanted to be the first one to dive in the water . I would push my brother aside and then the fight would begin,and
the heaven of my granny's house would turn into hell.
My granny was glad to see my father who had come to take us all to uncle's place .
There was going to be some ceremony for my mother and the new baby that was due any day now.
But the village fair was just two days away. Both me and my brother wanted to stay for it.
My father agreed to stay for two more days.
The only condition was that we were not to fight.
We agreed eagerly, even though it sounded impossible.
The next two days were real fun. We were doing everything in our power to harass each other without letting grandmother or father know about it. It required more skill and there was a sense
of adventure in it.
In the morning when we had gone to swim at the well, I pushed him in . Later, while taking a bath, he sneakily added an extra bucket of hot water in my mixed water,and I scalded myself. But there was no point in fighting, since it would mean our losing our chance to go to the fair.
Grandmother knew what was going on but connived at it. In fact, I suspected that she was secretly enjoying it as much as we were.
On the day of the fair, we got up very early and were ready to leave while it was still dawn.
The fair was on the village hill, at the temple of goddess kalubai, which was an hour's walk from granny's house.
There were no buses or autos in the village. We had to walk all the way.
But it was the most enjoyable walk.
It was dawn but there were still stars in the sky.
Stars look even more beautiful in the morning. And the huge moon of fourteenth was setting in the west. It became pink as it sank into the ground.
And the sun took over. It was cold and windy, but the wind burn felt nice and pleasant.
My father stayed with granny, who was walking a little slowly while climbing the hill.
But my brother and I sprinted all the way up,
pushing each other as we went along.
When we reached the top, the chanting had already begun.
As soon as we got a chance, we touched our forehead at the feet of the goddess and ran out .
Naturally, we were more interested in the fair.
Now we were on our own the whole day. We had our lunch box with us.
We were supposed to return home before sunset.
We had promised to behave ourselves and not to fight.
This time the fair was even bigger than always. They had all the usual things like the giant wheel and magic shops,candy shops, kite shops, and many other games.
Our father had given us ten rupees each to spend any way we liked.
I saw a bow and arrow. I liked it. The bow had a metal stick, it looked quite firm.
I bought it. Then I bought a candy, a catapult (which I used to call a 'sparrow hitter'!), a kaleidoscope and a kite.
And I had still two rupees left.
My brother did not buy anything. His eyes was searching for something.
And suddenly I saw smile on his face.
I looked at the direction he ran in.
It was a shop selling marbles.
A few minutes later, he came running back
With twenty beautiful marbles of all colors in his hands.
It was a treasure. I had never seen such beautiful pieces before.
Except for one of my brother's friends who never used to let us play with them.
I had never seen my brother so happy.
I wanted to buy a set but I had already spent my money.
I felt extremely disappointed. I asked him to let me have at least five and even offered him to give my sparrow hitter, bow and arrow and kite in exchange.
But he did not waste the wonderful opportunity and did not even let me look at them again.
I lost interest in the fair. I did not even sit on the giant wheel.
My brother had tied the marbles in the handkerchief and never let them out of there .
Choosing a tree with a good shade, we opened our lunch boxes.
We ate the root with potato bhaji which had pieces of green chilies in it.
My brother bit one of the pieces.
his mouth burned badly. He ran to the temple to find some water.
I sat there alone and the first thing I noticed was that my brother had forgotten to take his treasure with him.
without realizing what I was doing I lifted the treasure and went to the tree.
There was a hole in the branch. I hid the treasure there and came and sat down as if nothing had happened, eating my food with an innocent look on my face.
My brother came back in ten minutes. He had forgotten about the marbles.
Perhaps he was too hungry or his mouth still burnt but he finished his lunch quietly.
When we got up to go, he looked around.
"Where are the marbles?"
"In your head !" I said confidently, "don't you remember you took them with you to give them water."
He really did not remember what he had done.
"Let me check your pockets," he said. Very innocently I showed him my empty pockets.
I even pretended to be angry that he suspected me.
My brother was very sad. He did not let me go out of his sight.
He thought that he he had carelessly lost his treasure and that made him even more sad.
We came back home.
Grandmother was waiting with wonderful hot khichadi rice.
My brother was quiet. I kept telling about how wonderful the fair was this time.
I showed all the things I had bought at the fair.
"What did you do with your money?" father asked my brother.
He did not answer.
"He ate candies," I said.
He didn't even get angry with me for saying that.
He went to sleep without eating,
When grandmother called him to rub oil on his feet he did not answer.
I ate and let grandmother rub oil on my feet. My feet were really hurting.
I had thought I would go in the morning and get the marbles.
But the next day we had to leave early.
I could not go to the tree.
We got a new sister that summer.
My brother stayed at my uncle's house to study in the bigger and better School.
That year in the rains, one wall of my grandmother's house broke down and she came to stay with us.
We never went to the village again till after my marriage.
My wife and I had to go to the family temple as a part of the marriage ceremony.
My brother , his wife and his five-year-old son were also with us.
we had come there in my brother's new car.
After the ceremony, my brother's wife and my brother wanted to show my wife the village.
I picked up my nephew and took him to the tree.
I found the tree immediately.
Now my hand could not go into the hole.
I asked my nephew to put his little hand in the hole.
He did so.
He found the treasure.
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