Letter to Dolly Finklestein #2

Dear Dolly,

How are you doing? Anything exciting? I saw a picture of you wearing a really cute pink jacket in a shopping cart, at #BedBathAndBeyond. You really looked hot. I love pink too.

But this letter isn’t about fashion. I heard my mom tell somebody the weirdest story about my sister Brownie and thought you’d get a howl out of it too.

Before I arrived on the scene (and that’s a tale in itself), apparently my mom and dad went to New York (your home) to visit some other child of theirs who lives in your building.

They were going to be away for a month, and their driver Raju volunteered to take Brownie home with him.


Brownie loves Raju and Raju loves Brownie (I’m ambivalent about him) so she trotted off quite happily.

But by way of insurance, mom had also casually mentioned to Raju that she would sever his head with a dull, rusty knife if anything happened to Brownie.

Raju and his wife (Brownie said she gave her Marie Biscuits every day) and teenage son treated my sister like visiting royalty. All was well until Ganesh Chathurthy, a raucous, boisterous, ten day-long religious festival when humans in the city go berserk. They yell and scream and make a huge racket for no reason I can understand.

Someone must have left the gates in Raju’s house open for a moment because my silly sister, who may have seen it as a chance to go looking for her mommy (who was probably eating sushi somewhere in #NYC, not thinking of poor Brownie at all) slipped out when no one was looking.

Now Brownie is terrified of loud noises, specially fire crackers, and it’s likely she was disoriented. Whatever the reason, she just vanished. Disappeared out of sight.

Possibly overwhelmed by the noise of the festival himself, Raju only noticed Brownie’s absence about an hour after she’d fled. He broke into a cold sweat. His wife and son followed suit and pretty soon their house was a puddle of fear and fright.

But just for a moment.

Because Raju and his teenage son sprang into action. They went up and down the street, yelling Brownie’s name. No luck. They increased the perimeter of search going further and further afield, shouting out Brownie’s name all the time. It was hard to be heard in the din of Ganesha fervour and no brown, furry tail came wagging at them.

Raju summoned a few of his neighbours for assistance. They organised themselves and did a grid search, like they do in cop shows. No sign Brownie.

Quite a social media fan, Raju Whatsapped a picture of Brownie to a bunch of his friends, offering a Rs 2000 reward. He waited a while for response, but to no avail. By now it was almost 3 am and the streets were emptying out. People were going back home to sleep.

All of a sudden Raju remembered that he had a friend with an autorickshaw equipped with a megaphone. The auto was very popular during elections when campaigning politicians yelled out empty promises to their constituents as they drove up and down the streets.

It wasn’t a really good megaphone and tended to feedback a lot, but it was very loud. Raju hopped into the auto with his son and yelled out Brownie’s name all over the streets of Leggere (a neighbourhood in Bangalore), with no concern for its Ganesha-worn, sleepy residents.

“Brownie. Brownie. Brownie,” he screeched over and over again, as they drove up and down the now-deserted streets. “Brownie, Brownie. Brownie,” the emptiness echoed back.

They were at it for about an hour but there was no sign of Brownie, and they came back sadly home.

Raju pushed away thoughts of rusty knives and irrational moms and lay his weary, troubled head on the pillow, hoping to catch a few winks before resuming the search in the morning.

It was a little past 5 am, almost dawn, when his phone pinged. Someone Whatsapped a picture of a doggie that looked remarkably like Brownie, and the location was a few streets away.

Raju jumped to his feet and shook his son awake. They jumped onto his motorcycle and took off in a whiff of burning rubber.

To his utter delight it was really Brownie. An overjoyed Brownie who jumped all over Raju and licked his face. Raju forked over the Rs 2000 he had promised, but it seemed like a small price to in the face of Brownie’s happiness.

Shivu (Raju’s son) held Brownie between him and his dad on the motorcycle and they rode back home without further incident.

Raju didn’t relate this story to my mom till she had recovered from jet lag and had eaten enough ice cream to be in a good mood. And she didn’t cut off Raju’s head but laughed hers off instead.

Have a good summer Dolly, more stories later.



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