“Oh my god….not again!” Swara looked up at the mango tree in her garden with no sign of all the fruits that it was heavily laden with till the day before. She quickly turned her gaze at the mango tree in her neighbor Suchi’s garden. It was covered with bunches of luscious green mangoes waiting to fall off the tree. “Has she now started stealing my mangoes too? How cheap, is that?” But hell, she did not want to quarrel with that petty thief again.
Suchi and Swara were thick pals till recently when both of them had a tiff regarding a misunderstanding, which was planted maliciously by someone in their neighborhood who was jealous of their camaraderie. Apparently, Swara’s precious recipe for her trademark mango pickle had been leaked and everybody in the neighborhood now knew the secret ingredients to her much in demand pickle. Swara discovered this when she happened to taste it at the pot-luck hosted by the ladies in the vicinity recently. No one knew who was the culprit. But Swara had suspected Suchi’s hand in it, since she was the only frequent visitor to her house. On confronting her, Suchi was hurt beyond words and had lost her cool. A session of flinging accusations and abuses at each other followed. Now, they resented the sight of each other and generally kept a safe distance from each other.
The next day when Suchi stepped out to pluck a few fruits from her mango tree, she was aghast to find her tree swept clean of all the fruits. Instinctively she glared at Swara’s house. “Is that how she wants to get back at me? Bird brained that she is. I’m not going to spare her this time!” she muttered under her breath as she stepped into her veranda and started calling out in a high pitch for Swara, demanding an explanation for the theft. Swara reacted with her usual rage and turned the pointed finger back at Suchi.
Over the din of choicest abuses and blame games, Ayesha smiled slyly standing in her porch, hiding the catapult under her dupatta. Time to start preparing for the delicious pickle. Of course, the recipe would be Swara’s, the one that Ayesha with her conniving mind could smartly glean out of their neighborhood grocer who delivered the ingredients to Swara for her pickle. This year’s mango pickle was going to be the fieriest, considering that the mangoes had come from such hot-headed people’s gardens.