Have you seen one of those movies where the girl or boy whose exploits it follows are always surrounded by people who are dysfunctional and funny? Well, on Saturday I felt like one of them. Why? Long story. So let me tell you.
Saturday morning, I get up late. It’s a lovely hot day in the way that summers always are. I can hear people running around. I’m semi-conscious to the world. I tumble out of bed and hear Dad saying, “M____, there’s a gift for you! From Germany.” I wake up. No time for semi-conscious languorous lolling in bed. What was he saying? A gift for me? I was so surprised. I ran to the drawing room where I see Dad sitting next to the phone cradling this brown carton a little bigger than a cake box. Mom too was hunched over trying to make sense of things.
All the three of us looked at each other. Who would be sending me gifts? Before I could think who it was, my Dad helpfully said, “First they send you postcards, then gifts and finally they would want to come here and stay!” He was still thinking of my Postcrossing Project. He is always afraid of opening the door and finding a firang backpacker asking for me. And his perpetual worry is where to fit in his imaginary firang backpackers into our two-bedroom apartment. Don’t ask why he thinks so. That’s my Dad. I have stopped asking why a long time ago. It saves time.
My mom reserved her comments. It was a neat brown paper carton with duck tape around it. And white labels on it. I turned the box over and saw the label: Sure enough, it was addressed to me. No mistake.
Look what my dad does to me. He makes me think like him. I too started thinking that it was a spill over from the Postcrossing Project. Is it that woman from Germany that I last send a card to? Could it be Christine Wilhelm? Even if it was her, why on earth would she send me a parcel rather than a simple postcard, as the project requires. My mind was racing in a thousand different directions.
I shook the box hoping for some clues. A dull thud thud noise came from it, which didn’t help. Maybe whatever was in it was packaged well not to make noise. Well, there was only one way to find out. I’d have to open it. I looked around the brown box for a place to hold and yank out a part. There were no jutting edges. It was a very neatly packed brown carton. My practical Mom ventured, “Take the knife from the kitchen and use it.” I was going to laugh at the suggestion when I realised that was the only way to do it. I got the knife and looked for a place to start.
That’s when my very helpful Dad went again, “Do you think it is a bomb?” He was sitting across the room from Mom and me, near the telephone. I looked at Mom. Both of us looked at Dad and gave him a look that said “Thank you for your help. We are doing great. Without it!” But you know what he had done. He made us think of the bomb! Now, I was not only curious, I was scared as well! And I had to open it because my name was written on it! I braced myself and took the knife and cut through the central groove made by the two joining flaps. All along I was wondering if it was not a bomb, could it be anthrax? And if it is anthrax, it’s probably too late. But then who would be sending me anthrax?
I opened the flaps and waited for a second. Nothing happened. Phew! I mentally screamed. And then it hit me! I know what this is! About sometime last year, I had answered a quiz for a cultural programme that I used to watch called Arts.21 on DW TV, the German TV Company. I didn’t get anything for it though later, the same people got back to me asking if I would mind answering a survey of theirs via snail mail. I agreed. I got the survey and send it this January. So that’s what it is! In the brown box, harmlessly lying at the bottom was a set of 5 Classical music CDs of Bach, Beethovan, Chopin, Vivaldi, etc. I was ecstatic! It’s an exclusive limited edition of music CDs put together especially for DW TV. I read the letter, which accompanied it: I was chosen amongst many other submissions in a draw! I was so surprised. I turned and looked triumphantly at Dad. And laughed.