Girish has got scores of jute bags, from provision
stores, wholesale dealers, rice and sugar merchants. Fair price shops.
He stacks them on the mantelpiece, tied together by a coir rope.
Sitting in a corner of our room, in front of his iron trunk, he does
mathematics, on a jute bag.
"Do you know what I'm doing, Raju?" he asks me, wiping his face
with dhoti end. The pinkish bag has crimson marks made by transport
"Mathematics," I say.
"That's vague. I'm doing differential equations. Do you know what's a
"How do I know, Mr.Girish? I'm still in high school stage."
"Ha! Ha!" Girish laughs, exposing his canines. Longer canines for a vegetarian, reading for his Master's degree.
"Raju, you can have one of these. I'll give you a couple if you want them,"
he says, pointing at those bags. I peer at them. Brown and prickly.
"No, thanks. I've got a carpet. Bhavani carpet, you know? My father
got one for me directly from Bhavani. By post!"
"Bhavani carpets heat up easily. You'd better spread a gunny bag or two under
"I'll think it over."
"Anyway, you ought to have some gunny bags."
"Why don't you keep them in safe deposit lockers?" I ask.
He doesn't say anything.
Over time, Girish's bags occupy more and more space, turning more and
more prickly. I see them piled everywhere: on the mantelpiece,
He has made pillows stuffing bags into bags. Pillow covers, stitching
bags with jute thread and a big needle. On Sundays and holidays. Gunny
bags for door and window curtains. Doormats.
"Shall we go to Kagina Bridge?" he asks me on April 1. He has got a bundle of
gunny bags with him.
"I'm expecting a money order," I say.
"Your father's money order? You can take it later, after 2 pm. The postman returns to the post office from his rounds around that time. We'll return well before 1 pm."
"I'm not a big swimmer like you."
"Doesn't matter. Just be with me. I'll come with you to the post office. Okay?"
"All right," I say, following him. He kickstarts his Java 250. "What do you do with these bags?"
"Just see," he says.
He stops on the bridge, by the side of the road. He spreads the
bags along the bridge and makes a strip. Over our heads the noon sun
"You walk on it. Leave your footwear," he urges. I walk barefoot on
the strip for some distance.
"Have you noticed? Your feet do not burn."
"You're right. I'd rather prefer footwear."
"Gunny bags are always handy," he says. "We shall go there," he points to the temple on the bank of the river.
He pauses for a moment. Then he runs along the strip, just like a
plane on the runway, jumps up the railings and leaps into the river. I
want to collect all his gunny bags and throw them into the river. I