Buttermilk Bewilderment

Kaanawas is a small village 9km from Anandpur. Had to visit there today for an inspection. I rushed back to Anandpur thinking of the godforsaken crowd and chaos waiting at the bank.
Few hours later, someone came barging in through the door right at my seat. It was a man carrying a litre of masala buttermilk accompanied by his little girl of 8.

He panted, “You forgot this in hurry.”

I was confused and taken off-guard. I asked them to sit down. And so he did immediately, on the floor. I asked him to use the chair, still trying to figure out what was happening.

Once settled, he told, “No guest leaves our village without a meal. So I asked my wife to prepare this but by the time she was done, you had left.”

“I don’t remember meeting you at all. I met Mr. X to inspect his farm.” I uttered, trying to be as polite and inoffensive as possible. I knew there were some half a dozen people there but I never really registered all of their faces. The human mind mutes background hum like that, I thought towards myself, feeling sour.

“It doesn’t matter. I was there only. You were writing something in your paper. X asked if you would have lunch, you said no. He asked if you liked buttermilk and you said yes. So I ran to get it, but you had gone.”

Bewildered, I asked who he was. He replied that he was X’s neighbour.

I must have absent mindedly responded to something about buttermilk, I thought.

The girl had bright eyes and a wide smile. She piped up, “, I wanted to see the bank so I ran along !”
“How do you like it then?”
“Not good.” She wrinkled her nose.
“Why so?” I quizzed.
“Pushing and crying” She shrugged towards a bunch of women outside who had their noses pressed against the cabin glass and looked teary-eyed. The forms in their hand told me they were family pensioners of martyred BSF personnel.

The father-daughter duo left as hurriedly as they had come in, before I could form a proper response. The condensation on the bottle of buttermilk dripped and eased out on my table, just like the crazy hospitality and simplicity of the people here percolates in every crevice of an indifferent system.

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