Last night a friend was telling me about her cousin, Radhika, who has this annoying habit of correcting people’s grammar and pronunciation all the time. Like ‘you don’t drink soup, you always EAT soup . It’s not development but DEVELAPMENT. It’s not GORMINT but GOVARMENT’. And drop the idea of using ‘entrepreneur’ in your sentences when you are talking to her. You utter and Radhika will correct, such is the urge.
While some people think it’s absolutely cool to be a ‘Grammar Nazi’, some get seriously offended. But did you know the urge to correct people’s grammar is being linked with some kind of OCD? So, Radhika could be possibly ill and not rude. Such a weird organ human mind is.
Now that we are talking about OCD, I must tell you about Kleptomania, a disorder where people have an uncontrollable desire to steal. Yes, they steal things they don’t even need or like. They just do because they feel that strong urge to do so.
I always knew about Kleptomania but somehow always believed that it’s something that could happen to people living in far- off -land until I met this beautiful girl Vaishali who came to live in my PG ( Paying guest accommodation ) for a month. Vaishali was a rich Marwari fashion designing student from Kolkata who had come to Delhi for an internship programme. Her room was next to mine, so it was an instant connection and soon Vaishali became friends with everybody living on that floor.
We all were working and got chance to interact only during dinner time. That night five of us were sitting with plates full of Chole and Chawal when this air-hostess stormed out of her room almost screaming. “ My lighter has gone missing from my room. I don’t know who took it”. Only 3 of 12 girls who lived on that floor smoked and two of them were sitting there with their dinner plates on their laps. We would have let it go if it was just a lighter but it was not. That was an Archie’s gallery lighter that her boyfriend gifted her on their first Valentines’ day ever. We looked at every corner of that shoe box size room but that lighter was nowhere to be found. The air-hostess soon forgot about the incident with a pledge to be careful in future.
It was Sunday next day and vaishali, I and a girl named Farah decided to raid Sarojini Market. While Vaishali shopped till her hands couldn’t carry more carry bags, Farah zeroed in on a pretty white lacy dress after much bargaining. And I got a sexy black bra from a branded shop at a discounted rate. We savoured those Choley bhature that we got packed from a nearby restaurant at Farah’s room and we soon crashed.
Two days later, I decided to wear a strappy black top to work and opened my old rusty Almirah to look for my newly purchased black bra. To my much surprise, the bra was missing from the carry bag. Now this was crazy. I remember keeping it inside the Almirah the day I got it. I clearly remembered that. Who could have stolen it from my Almirah ? And why would she steal that bra and not my laptop? I must add that this was actually second time we came across such kind of incident. We never locked our Almirahs or room and none of our things ever got misplaced.
Why would anybody steal my bra ? Only few girls were as blessed as I was in that entire hostel! I asked Mashi ma ( the cleaner) if she had seen anybody entering inside my room. She obviously hadn’t and I couldn’t agree more. Yes, nobody entered our rooms once the cleaning was done. I was getting late for the work and I chucked the idea of wearing that black top altogether.
Same day, when I came from work tired and grumpy, I heard Mashi ma inquiring about half a dozen spoons that went missing. Spoons, bra and lighter? Noway we could connect the dots.
I clearly remember it was Sunday and I was getting ready to go out with my friends when a girl named Ananya knocked my room to ask if I had seen her newly brought Haruki Murakami book. Oh no, not again. We all went to Mashi ma and asked for locks, something that we had never thought we would do.
Few days later, Farah gave me a missed call which meant I had to rush to her room. She realized her white dress had gone missing while getting ready for a date “ The white lacey dress that you had got from Sarojini ? Didn’t you give it to Vaishali as a parting gift,” asked Nancy clearly puzzled. Nancy was Vaishali’s roommate and had seen her stuffing that white dress inside her bag. “ I clearly remember, it was your dress and I thought you gifted it to her since she liked it very much”.
Vaishali was done with her internship and had left for Kolkata last night. Her phone was out of reach so we got her mother’s number from the hostel owner. We dialed the number and put the phone on speaker’s mode. We asked her if she had erroneously taken away Farah’s white dress with her. There was a complete silence for 30 seconds and then she hung up after saying ‘ No, I didn’t’. Her voice was shaky, we could sense that. She was clearly lying and I knew where my black bra was.
Next thing we knew that we all were blocked from Vaishali’s Facebook account. But Farah was not ready to let go. She decided to call Vaishali’s mother and told her that the white dress in her daughter’s cupboard belonged to her. The mother thrashed her. We all heard that. “ We belong to renowned Marwari family and Vaishali had gone to prestigious boarding school, why would my daughter steel your dress, bra or lighter. My daughter doesn’t smoke. She is very sanskari,” said the voice on the other side of phone.
We knew we had to give up. We went to our room to sleep after bitching about the mother and her daughter till our hearts’ content. What else we could do?
Life was all good and Vaishali became a distant memory until one fine evening when I returned to hostel from work, tired and sweaty. I was greeted by a young man I had never seen before asking for me. He had a parcel sent by one Mrs Agarwalla from Kolkata. I took the parcel and headed towards my room to open it.
What came from Kolkata that evening was the biggest surprise of my life. I screamed everybody’s name and they all rushed to my room. The box had my bra, Farah’s dress, that girls’ book, airhostess lighters, hostels’ spoon, my roommate top that she wasn’t aware had gone missing, a knife, a few nail paints and of course those spoons. We laughed till our stomachs hurt. After we were done laughing and bickering, we called Agarwalla Aunty from Farah’s phone. We thanked her for sending our stuffs and after a long pause, she said “Actually beta, Vaishali is a careless girl. It must be just some confusion. I am sorry for my behavior.”
“She might be having this syndrome called Kleptomania. My cousin has this weird habit of stealing pens. He says he can’t do anything about it,” said one of the girls. Most of us were aware of this term yet we were shocked to know a kleptomaniac. We discussed Kleptomania over dinner of Matar paneer and Roti and I finally wore that top next day!