221'B Baker's Club By P B Dutta

221’B Baker’s Club

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'Every place has something to offer you!' An extraordinary line can sometimes cross a great mind to discover the rhythms of a wonderland. When a boy from a big city moves into a total opposite of the city life and come acrosses the adventures, friendship and solitude which he was longing for, gives him the true meaning of life.

“Now why don’t you sleep for a while.” Ai (mother) asked Dave

“No, tell me a story about the woodpeckers.” Dave demanded 

“There’s no story about woodpeckers.” Ai exasperated 

“Then make me one.” Dave pleaded 

“Once we reach our new home, create a story by yourself.” Ai said in a sleepy tone. 

After hearing an involuntary response from Ai, Dave looked out of the car window. The nature of Munnar hypnotized him. He was taken aback to find out the way he was welcomed by nature in this new town. 

“Communication with nature requires no phrases, just power of observation and an opportunity to be heard.” Dave expressed his words with pleasure. 

“Good one son, I am sure you are going to love this place and will make new friends soon.” Baba said while driving the car. 

“How is that possible? I don’t even know Malayalam, how will I make friends with the locals? And it’s a village, do the villagers speak English?” Dave questioned.

“You will find it out soon, don’t think much, every place has something to offer you. Wait for your turn.” Baba said politely. 

For a decade Dave grew up in the city. Which had a serious lack of greenery. So he was thrilled enough when the much awaited journey from Pune to Munnar was about to come to an end. Dave was moving to Munnar with his parents and half brother Akhil. 

Akhil was just a two years old infant and had much attention grabbed by Ai. Mr. Gupte was appointed as a senior engineer in the Mattupetty Dam. Additionally he was allotted a bungalow near the dam where the Gupte family will be residing for a couple of years. 

Munnar is as pretty as a picture in the Western Ghats which counts in the state of Kerala. Surrounded by rolling hills, known for tea plantations. Here one can be amused by the greenish valleys and sense the breathtaking climate and gaze at the beautiful sight all around. 

The road to Mattupetty was crossed over the Dam. The Dam was located in the middle of Shola Forest on one side, tea plantation and grassland on the other side. Their new house was exactly somewhere located in between. 

Dave as a 10 year old boy craved for privacy and a playmate to hang around. His new house was filled with all the livings, his brother, parents, the cook and the maid. There were no rooms for solitude and reflection for himself. Dave was not much fond of his half brother, rather he was more busy unpacking and unlocking the closed rooms, shelves, books and the backyard. As Ai asked him to create his own story and write a book from it. 

Dave had to share his room with Ahkil, as Ai was much worried about his wandering mind. Maybe looking after his half brother would keep Dave less innovative for a while. The house and the place had already got his attention. Although he wanted to cross the boundary of his curiosity to have immense pleasure. His room was quite pleasing, as the Dam was easily seen from the room. Nothing much was in to fascinate him. 

One afternoon, Mala – the maid brought her daughter Aesha to their house directly from the school. Aesha’s alabastrine skin gave her the brittle look of a doll. Her opaque brown eyes brighten up her face. Dave had already considered her to be his friend. As he was already missing someone of his age. Dave drew up in his mind that Aesha would be a perfect friend for the remaining cold season. Dave heard from his ai Aesha was good at academics and draws very well. As school would remain closed for Christmas Aesha would stay at their home while Mala would help Ai. Dave was surprised to know a girl from this village knows English. He remembered what Baba told him on the way. Now he definitely got a reason to call her in for help to complete his little book. Where she would add her words and paintings in the book.
Like other afternoons the brothers were in their room. While Akhil was first asleep, Dave was gazing out into the yard. Wondering what secrets it might hold. He was trying to find a way to the yard. Aesha, like the past few days, was present in his house. Dave got an idea to invite Aesha to join him to explore the backyard. Dave ran hurriedly downstairs. Aesha was sitting on the carpet in the kitchen and was drawing a vase. 

“Wow! Is that a vase you are drawing?” Dave said

Aesha turned around and found Dave standing behind. 

Dave quickly adjusted his glasses and with his fingers brushed his curly hair. 

“Can I see it?” Questioned Dave

“Yes, yes sure.” Aesha said politely 

“This is so great, but I think I have seen it somewhere.” Dave sounds confused

“Of course, it’s the one from the living room cabinet.” Said Aesha. 

“Is it? “

“I must say you are a great artist.”

“Thanks Dave.”

“Hey, you know my name?” Dave asked surprisingly

“I have been visiting your house for couple of days, heard your Amma Calling you by the name.” said Aesha

“Yeah! Yeah!”

“You speak so well in English.” said Dave 

“She is a class topper, Dave baba.” Mala said proudly 

Dave looked at Aesha and raised his brow and said, “High five, you would be happy to know that I am the class topper too.” 

They both high five each other and smiled. Mala left the kitchen and went upstairs. 

“You know, the backyard is overfilled with towering trees, bananas and wild shrubs. Would you like to see it?” asked Dave 

“Yes, let’s go, before Amma comes down.” Aesha accepted the invitation. 

Aesha and Dave with each other went to the Southern corner of the backyard where stood an empty wooden shed. Functioned as a storage. They both found old stuff and wooden furniture. After a long search Aesha found a broken door behind a shelf. 

“Hey, look there!” Aesha said pointing at the broken door 

“Good job Dr Watson.” Dave said 

“Who is Dr Watson?” questioned Aesha 

“You don’t know? Haven’t you read Sherlock Holmes?” Dave questioned

“Illa.” Aesha answered in a disappointing tone

”Illa means.” asked Dave 

“Means no.” said Aesha 

“Oh! No worries. It’s a character from the Sherlock Holmes story. Dr Watson is a partner of Detective Sherlock Holmes. Just like you are my partner now.” Dave expressed happily 

“I see, I see.” said Aesha 

“I will give you the book once I finish reading it.” Said Dave. 

Words could not describe how joyful it was for them. They both knew this adventure was going to be a moment for a beginning of a new friendship. 

“Tomorrow we meet here at  2 o’clock in the afternoon.” Dave said

Aesha agreed to his proposal happily. 

“It’s going to be a fun hunt Dave, isn’t it.” Said Aesha 

“Yes it will be.” Dave smiled 

The very next day, after Ai and Akhil had fallen asleep and Mala was busy with household jobs,  Dave and Aesha on their tip-toes began their journey for the woods. They moved out of the broken door and made clearings through the bushes, dug in tunnels to match out, where they finally stepped into the greenery land. Only a sense of happiness was visible on their veins. 

Whenever they stepped into the woods secretly Dave would carry a notebook to note down whatever he observed and Aesha took her sketchbook. 

Dave not only found a friend but he began to fall in love with nature. Watching the leaf drops, the dancing bees, the hedonistic kiss of wild breeze that touched his skin. The crashing sounds of the dry leaves under his feet and the azure spellbind his heart. The buzzing of crickets, bees extracting honey from the flowers, the tuneful chirps and squeaks of animals and birds replaced Aesha’s memory with rhymes, which she would sing along. 

The nature, the woods of Shola and Aesha’s presence had taken Dave into a wonderland. With each passing day they both uncovered many places nearby the woods. His stay in Munnar brought a friend he longed for. He would name his book ‘The Tales Of The Woods’. 

Perhaps, Munnar was a worthy place for him to find a moment of solitude, the blue sky, the woods and an unexpected friend. Dave enjoyed the company of Aesha. He shared his Sherlock Holmes book series with Aesha. Aesha too taught Dave how to draw and paint. They both built a small tent in the backyard. They named it  ‘221B Baker Club’. Where Dave sat down to write his book and Aesha would draw. Sometimes Dave would read stories to her. They both were always very humble and friendly towards each other. Dave would share his city life, old school and friends’ stories with her. He would be very talkative often but she would be all ears to him. They would sit in silence for a longer time, listening to the sounds of crickets and bird calls indicating the coming nightfall.

The smell of pakoras from the kitchen whirled out through the kitchen’s window, stirring up their appetites.

Dave adored the simplicity of Munnar and cherished it with Aesha. He now acknowledges the meaning behind ‘every place has something to offer you.’ 

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