Grapevine at home had it that government officers on deputation from other states to this Himalayan hamlet needed domestic help just like him. And Abdul loved to live daringly. So, he set out for a destination thousands of miles away where the services of a 'cook in particular-cum-all else in general' would extract a premium.
There was a foothold in a neighborhood uncle's den who had preceded him. Abdul posed the million dollar question: where was the market? He lost no time in stationing himself there to weigh up prospective employers. His searching eyes riveted onto the man in the chicken stall. He looked very authentic officer type, talking very very authoritatively.
Abdul had hit pay dirt. His inquiries revealed that this officer also lived alone having left his family back home to join his job on deputation. That made two of them in the same boat now. He followed the officer to his car, and showing great dexterity, opened the door for him. That was three years ago, and neither looked back on the decision.
Man Friday Abdul was indispensable to his boss by dint of his hard work laced with an uncanny presence of mind. Abdul's chicken curry of a secret recipe was famous. He was a past master in dodging persistent inquiries about the recipe, even to the extent that he would commandeer the boss' car to travel to markets 15/20 miles away to buy 'special spices and herbs'.
The local grocers could not be relied upon to keep his marketing list a secret. However, his refusal to reveal the recipe resulted in a steady flow of self-invited friends to the house virtually demanding chicken curry and rice.
The boss also had to guard against Abdul's possible abduction with inducement of higher salary by other officials. It led to the boss soft pedaling him on all other issues.
One day the boss' boss turned up for a chat, stayed over till late night, and suggestively inquired what was there for dinner. Abdul, who was hovering around the room importantly, informed that chicken curry could be arranged if they agreed to have late dinner.
|(credit - www.ethnicindiancuisine.com)|
Abdul went out of the back door, ran down hill to a house where he had noticed the owner was fattening a chicken in a small coop in the open front yard. He broke open the coop, and decamped with the shrieking chicken at a speed that a minute later the inevitable pursuers had no chance of catching up.
That night Abdul poured out his heart in cooking the chicken curry. Next day, when the episode came to light, the chicken owner bargained for and received an ample financial compensation to cover his loss.
|(credit - www.lifeofanarchitect.com)|
I arrived there for a couple of days' stay shortly after the incident. There would be chicken curry tomorrow, the boss informed me at the dinner table. “No, Sir, now,” quipped Abdul cryptically. The boss almost jumped up, chicken and panic having become synonymous for him,“Where did you get the chicken from?” Abdul handed him over the cash memo with a flourish for a chicken bought at the market. The boss heaved a sigh of relief.
Next morning I asked Abdul, “How come the chicken curry was doubly special that night?” He smiled slyly, “Because the chicken was marinated in adventure sauce, Sir, the same as last night's.”
“Last night's?” I asked in amazement. He had “lifted” the replacement chicken from the same coop, and handed his boss an old cash memo, he gleefully confessed. “Don't tell him, he is so chicken hearted!” he whispered.
BY TAPAS MUKHERJEE