The Indian Thanksgiving – Hans Albert Lewis

4
1565

Tom was flying east for the holidays. But turkeys don’t fly and even if they could fly short distances they definitively can’t fly over oceans and continents solely relying on their feathered wings to carry their heavy weight, hence Tom had to take a flight on an airplane. Tom was chosen from among other turkeys and transported in a pet carrier cage in the cargo section. Also, turkeys don’t work so they don’t get holidays. Therefore in truth, Tom was being transported from the United States of America to India to be stuffed, roasted and carved for a special thanksgiving dinner, all without his consent. Finally you might argue with all this rationality being exhibited, turkeys could care less about being named. So continuing with this rational, ‘Tom’ is a terminology used for an adult male turkey and was not this particular turkey’s name. Turkeys don’t care about being named or not, humans do. Humans name animals only when they feel attached to it or when the animal becomes dear to them as a pet.

Humans mostly never eat a cow named Myrtle, a goat named Riyaaz or a duck called Donald. That’s the reason why many farm animals are never named; they are mostly branded or tagged with a number or code. You don’t feel remorse over eating a number and a code, but eating Myrtle, Riyaaz or Donald could choke you with a guilty conscience, it’s like killing and eating something almost human. Now this travelling tom was going to be named, and it was all because one day…

George Enzo the global CEO and president of a successful Colorado based company called Enzo International, had decided that he would take his wife and two young daughters to India for this year’s general body meeting and to celebrate thanksgiving in another land. A year ago, his inherited Industrial automation company, had shifted its complete supply chain, customer care & relationship management department to India. Hundreds lost their jobs in one part of the world and thousands gained those jobs in another part while the company boasted of tripling profits.

The origins of thanksgiving which goes back to the fifteenth century had a beautiful story of cooperation and interaction between invaders or colonists called pilgrims and barbaric natives who were mistakenly called Indians. These natives taught the pilgrims how to grow corn and this resulted in bountiful harvest on the fertile lands, never seen before by these European pilgrims. They had harvest festivals back in Europe but this called for more than a festival; a ‘big thank you’ had to be given to someone, maybe to the invisible force. And in all this giving of thanks a feathered fowl was somehow included as the main course which the settlers called ‘turkey’ by another misunderstanding of trading names given to the particular bird species.

George Enzo loved to correlate history with modern times and in his head he played with this long celebrated tradition. He believed corporations were actually kingdoms of the modern day and his kingdom was one of the many ‘Corporate Pilgrims’ of its day that were seeking a better life in high profits and void of ruthless taxes. In a world of off-shoring and globalization, these kingdoms had to quickly spread its branches, business and services in order to stay in the competition. So they found a land fertile with cheap labor, cost-effective infrastructure and most importantly, educated masses having knowledge and ability of speaking affluent English without jobs. It was a rich land indeed and these Corporate Pilgrims decided to become Corporate Settlers. The Settlers employed natives who had the knowhow of doing business in their own land, and they in turn taught the settlers how to grow their company’s profits just like two ears of corn growing where only one grew before. These effective practices were written in Business Bibles for more pilgrims to follow and all of this called for a Thanksgiving indeed, hence the meeting. For Enzo’s kingdom, it was time to reap the harvest.

Now the news of the arrival of the kingdom’s first family and the AGM was made known to the eager management of the Chennai based Indian subsidiary just a few months in advance. They were also made aware that the meeting would coincide with the popular American festival of thanksgiving. Therefore first class preparations had to be executed at double the rate in half the time at hand. So a five-star hotel was chosen to ensure a seventh heaven experience for Mr. Enzo, his family, advisors and top associates.

The beautiful hotel would be the Kingdom’s temporary Royal Palace. A conference with Enzo’s Indian management and the Top management of the hotel took place. Itinerary’s and details of the family’s and the Company’s top honchos’ stay were shared with the hotel. Expensive suites were booked. George Enzo’s personal secretary, sitting outside her boss’s cabin, in another continent was overlooking every detail of this arrangement. A grand Business hall was booked for the meetings,and a Banquet hall for the Thanksgiving dinner, which had now turned from a family affair into a company dinner coupled with special performances and entertainment acts. The Ruler of this Kingdom alongside his family, decided to eat with his advisors and important subjects in a temporary royal court and also to make merry and give thanks for the success and wealth the kingdom had accumulated. The hotel staff got together after this huge order was placed; they designed and planned the event. Every detail of the plan was learnt and memorized by the hotel staff. For the special dinner, the hotel decided to use their most brilliant chef who had years of experience in international cuisines all over the world. The first thing, the chef advised was that they should fly down a live turkey from the states than cook a frozen commercial turkey, which also had to be flown down. Turkey farming still had not really kicked off in India as there was no real demand for the turkey meat. Even if they did find turkeys in a farm, the chef was not sure of the quality and was not ready to gamble for such an order. He suggested a particular breed called Bourbon Red. Because of their popular demand and rarity, this variety had to be ordered months in advance. The five star hotels somehow managed to procure a turkey of that breed and preparations were made for it to be transported to India.

All of this was done, a month ahead of the event’s date to reduce any last minute errors. The turkey was purchased and already billed to the company. Here is where the premium tom landed on Indian soil, far from home and away from friends and family. It felt a little cold in the new land but was definitely not frozen. It was a breed of turkey that was making a strong comeback on rich platters in the States. The farm that bred such turkeys flaunted their packaging and promotion materials with the slogan “The turkey that your ancestor’s ate”. This breed belonged to a group of special wild turkeys called Heritage Turkeys that was sidelined by the commercial white broad breasted turkeys. But the rich grew tired of the bland meat of the commercial turkey and these wild turkeys were bred again in farms as a niche product so even if their meat was not so tasty, the whole rarity and premium price did add a few flavors to it on the tongues of the rich.

The hotel chef had nominated Muthu, a kitchen helper with the hotel for over five years, to take care of the tom during its final days. Muthu was a lonely middle-aged man belonging to a lower caste. He was unmarried because all his adult life he was taking care of his seven younger sisters and had gotten each of them married off. He was respected among his neighbors for this sacrifice. Muthu lived all alone on a small ancestral stretch of land, which was a tiny colony of brick huts at the outskirts of the city and half an hour of cycling away from the hotel. Muthu prepared himself for his new assignment by following translated instructions on taking care of the special fowl. He had raised a few chickens himself on his small land for their eggs so he had a little bit of experience with poultry. He fenced his small backyard with barb wires so that stray dogs couldn’t trouble the foreigner. On that day of the turkey’s arrival, Muthu went to the airport to collect his new guest and welcome him into its temporary lodging. He stood at the airport, waiting for hours to receive the foreign visitor. Its flight had been delayed and once it arrived, he submitted the required paperwork to the customs and carried the turkey that was still in its box, tying it onto his cycle saddle. As soon as he entered his village, he was greeted by a pack of stray dogs that were showing more interest in his guest. Muthu had to peddle and kick his legs in the air to shoo off the dogs.

When Muthu reached home and opened the box; he was in admiration of the beautiful bird and at the same time felt pity for it too.

The next day, Muthu’s boss, a young trainee from the hotel came to check on the fowl. He had to report its condition to the higher-ups. It was the first time the trainee had seen a turkey. He told his bosses that the turkey was large and meaty enough to make a wonderful meal and was not hurt or tampered with during delivery. But the host, Muthu wasreally worried about his new guest. For the first few days, the turkey did not take too well to its new location. It was not eating and rarely cameout of his box. Muthu knew that the long flight, the barking dogs and them is handling during its journey had really frightened the bird. He had to really persuade his guest to feel more at home. So, Muthu shared his concerns with an old friend who was a drunkard. The old drunkard hadspent his youth working on the merchant ships as a cleaner and had more experience of the outside world than Muthu. But the old man did not know what a turkey was and the way Muthu had put forth his concern, he had reason to believe that the turkey was another human being, one of Muthu’s friends who had come from abroad.

“Ahh…Uuuu…Esss…of Umrica, you say” said the drunk friend who was very grateful to Muthu for buying him his peg from the village liquor shop, a small donation for his advice. On the other hand Muthu did not like the taste of alcohol but had to indulge in the offering. The old man who had received his donation, felt obliged to impart with his knowledge, he continued, “Yes… yes your friend is from the land of Elvis and Mickey Mouse. Nice big country. You also say he is notwell…he is going to expire very soon. Then it is your duty to make his last few days on this earth, happy and little less pain and sad. You want to make guest feel home…play Elvis song and put Mickey Mouse poster. Go to city bazaar, you will get cassette and poster there. Then only your Nanban, your friend will feel like at home.”

On his drunken friend’s advice, Muthu bought the ‘The Very Best of Elvis Presley’ cassette, poster and even picked up a USA flag. He played the cassette over and over, for the turkey to listen to, pasted the Mickey Mouse poster on the wall and hoisted the flag onto the coop he had built. Eventually the turkey got used to the new environment and became cozy with his new benefactor. Muthu was happy with this development and offered another peg to his advisor. “Burgers and Sandwiches,” he said, “they like those meat burgers…your Umrica friend will like. Pig meat and they also like that big bird’s meat. I forgot what they call it… very tasty meat, but sadly you do not get that here…”

Weeks passed and finally it was the day of the Thanksgiving. The hotel was well decorated; the weather and moods were delightful. The Enzo family had so far enjoyed their weeklong stay and the thanksgiving dinner was the closing ceremony to the general body meeting which had finished over the week. The Enzo management was satisfied with the meeting’s outcome. The banquet hall was extravagantly decorated. Series of tables ran across all the corners and sides of the banquet hallwith a few interruptions of space in between so that guests could take their seats in-between the tables and the wall. The evening began with the cutting of a giant cake, which had the company’s logo on it. George and his beautiful wife cut the cake together. This was followed by a few performances and acts which included a popular Indian classical singer, a bollywood dance troupe and a magician. Everything was going according to plan on the dinner night. Mr. Enzo gave a small speech of Thanks before popping open a champagne bottle. It was now time for the tom to make its entrance for the final act of the evening “the carving”. This was what the tom was raised to end up, this was its purpose and what an honor indeed for the tom to be chosen for this particular event, for this special ritual.

George Enzo had signaled to the head waiter, who ran immediately towards him. “Yes Sir” ‘Where is my turkey my dear fellow? I hope it did not get cold feet and run away or had a nervous breakdown, because of the immense pressure on it?” Enzo was repeating his joke on the waiter which he had already tested on his wife and especially on his Indian marketing officer who laughed at each and every joke he cracked. He had formulated the joke during the five minutes he was waiting for the turkey.

“Sir …Sir…there has been a small problem with that…but not to worry sir… we have managed to solve that problem; the turkey will be here in no time Sir….SIR! Look it’s just arriving.”

Before George could clarify what the problem was, a giant round chafing dish with roll top lid and brass legs on a trolley was pushed inside the hall and placed at the center. It was opened to reveal a huge roasted turkey, the waiter handed over a stainless carving knife and a meat fork to the CEO who walked to the center and cut a thin slice of the roasted dish and went back to his seat. The waiters would do the rest of the carving. All the subjects and guests clapped loudly on this single ritual act by their boss. Only the photographer, who was hired to click snaps of this occasion, had captured the disappointed face of the CEO while he was carving out the thin slice. The disappointed CEO who now had masked a smile on his face returned to his seat. He signaled to the head waiter again.

“Is this some kind of joke?” George Enzo grinded his teeth and spoke, “that was not a turkey…I know how a turkey looks and that looked like a mound of potato and chicken shreds all mashed up and cleverly shaped to look like a turkey. What‘s going on here…where is the real turkey?”

The volume of his voice was low but the anger was clearly detectable. The head waiter was now shivering as he knew he was not speaking to just another customer but the head of a company, a ruler of a kingdom who was very angry.

“Sir…I’m extremely sorry…We encountered a problem with turkey… Sir, I do not know how to explain it to you…But the turkey was robbed from us.”

<!– @page { margin: 2cm } P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } –>“What do you mean Robbed! What happened? I need to know how it was robbed”, Commanded the ruler of this dinner night. The anger had removed this ruler’s modesty but his subjects were still unaware of the situation. “Isn’t this a five star hotel? I need to know details.”

“Sir we know who robbed it…it was the kitchen helper who was taking care of the turkey over these days. The turkey was with him till last night when I personally went to do the check. He was supposed to bring the turkey to the hotel this morning but he did not show up. We panicked and went to his home but he was not there. He ran away with your turkey…Sir…We have informed the police sir…We did not know how to break this news to you sir…I would like to apologize about the whole thing sir. I will ask our management to give your company a discount for this unseen disaster sir…I apologize again.”

“I don’t care about a discount said the CEO, I should have been informed about this weird circumstance that we are in right now. If there is any progress in finding this man. Let me know. I am here for another two days. I want to know why I was robbed of my turkey and my Thanksgiving. Ask the police to take action and arrest him. I want this man to be found. ”George Enzo had to calm down with the excuse put forth, he had no other choice. He could continue being pissed off with the situation or enjoy the dinner. He decided the latter. He was now also intrigued about this bizarre situation and wanted to know the kitchen helper’s motive. On the other hand, his family, guests and subjects could care less about a turkey gone missing or robbed. His wife was a vegan; his two daughters could never make out the difference between turkey and chicken meatwhile the rest of the people had never even seen a live turkey before.

The next day was work as usual for Enzo India and many of the company’s top management would walk into their offices at noon and with a hangover of the previous night. But as usual George Enzo had woken up early and was waiting for the breakfast to be brought into his hotel suite. He had a few appointments fixed with some Indian businessmen and was going to spend the evening sightseeing along with his family. The headwaiter had accompanied his breakfast. “Good Morning Sir,” he said sounding very cheerful. George Enzo responded to the welcome and asked him, “Any progress about last night’s situation?” “Yes Sir, Infact there has been Sir… that is why I came to serve you your breakfast personally and to inform you that the Police have caught Muthu”

“Who is Muthu?”

“Muthu the kitchen helper…Sir…He was found hiding in one of his sister’s home.”

“And what about the turkey?”

“Sir…about that…There was no turkey…he was all alone.”

“No turkey…did he eat it?”

“You could be right Sir. I’m sure that savage must have cooked and eaten the turkey; I guess that is why he was on the run. He is a bloody lower caste, his kind are a little uncivilized and they eat even mice if they are hungry…I am a Brahmin…Sir…we do not eat meat”

“Good For you…but did he confess he ate the turkey?”

“No Sir he did not. Infact he has not spoken a word so far. He is in the lock up and he has not told the police anything.”

“I would like to meet him then.”

“Sir, But, I don’t understand Sir why you want to meet him, justice has been served. That low class will rot in prison for a while and then he will know never to steal and eat another man’s turkey. I knew he was trouble when he was hired. I told the management that but they did not listen. See what happened now?”

“No I have to meet him; I want to know why he robbed me of my ritualistic dinner. Thanksgiving dinner is always special for me and I wanted to have it perfect for my children. This thanksgiving was almost perfect and the absence of the turkey will remain as a scar in my head. I don’t appreciate failure especially to things I hold close to me and last night’s dinner was really close to me. I’ve even fired my personal secretary for four years; I sent her a stinker email about this mishap. She should have thought of a backup plan. How could she have not overlooked your hotel plans and not advised you guys to send another turkey here. I’ve even sent some ‘stinkers’ to your top management in the hotel about this. Now, I have a few meetings and I should get done with them by noon after which I will make a visit to the police station. If you could, please inform them of my arrival”

“Yes sir, gladly sir…anything else sir”

“Yes one more thing I need to know does this Muthu…does he speak English?”

“Very little of it… all broken English Sir…not as good as me sir. He can understand but cannot speak fluently and polished like my English sir.”

George Enzo deliberately indulged in an act of reminiscence on his childhood thanksgiving days while he was riding the air-conditioned car. He had just finished his business meetings and was on his way to the police station. Memories of his father were always associated with the celebrations. His father was a true patriot and believed in upholding the tradition of the country saying that it brought a man closer to his land and even closer to his family and loved ones. For George, his father was his only true hero. He recollected the struggling years when there was hardly any money in the house even to pay electricity bills and buy new clothes, but somehow his father would take a loan. He had even sold his gold ring and watch to make sure the day and dinner was just perfect for his family of five. There was always a turkey no matter how horrible the financial situation for Thanksgiving dinner. And when things got better and his father’s business did well, his father died with a sudden heart failure. George Enzo was in his early twenties back then and his father had left the family plentiful and a good business which was growing each day. His father never got to enjoy the good days and the grand Thanksgiving days, which followed. This was the reason why he followed this tradition so religiously.

George Enzo entered the police station; the police inspector was keenly observing the tall white man inside his station. The only white people the inspector had encountered so far were the breed of backpackers who were always dressed shabbily, smelt bad and carried heavy bags on their shoulders. George Enzo was a refreshingly well dressed white man who seemed very rich. He readily entertained the request of this gentleman who wanted to see ‘Muthu the turkey robber’. The inspector told George that Muthu had not spoken a word since his capture and they were waiting for the hotel to put an official charge against him. The inspector arranged for a chair to be kept near the lock up bars. It was dark inside the cell and Muthu was ordered by the inspector to come near the bars.

George saw a very placid face emerge from the darkness into the dim light. The inspector introduced George to the man inside the lock up as the official owner of the turkey and left them alone.

He sat in silence for quite some time and stared at Muthu who was avoiding the stare by constantly glancing away. And then George Enzo broke the silence and spoke slowly so that the prisoner could understand.

“I thought you Indian People are very religious, you welcome, admire and respect all traditions and customs. I heard you even incorporate a few of them that is why I guess you have so many gods and rituals yourselves…tell me then one thing, All I have is this one tradition called Thanksgiving. This is a tradition which reminds me of my dead father. It is very dear to me. Why did you steal my thanksgiving from me? Why did you take away my turkey? What did you do with it? I need to know the reason for your disrespect of my one and only tradition which I hold so close to my heart and which I always want to be perfect. Tell me…why?”

Tears rolled down Muthu’s empathizing eyes. “Turkey my Nanban, Turkey my friend,” he repeated, “I take care of turkey so long…he become close friend. I named turkey Chellamani…he become precious to me…we are very close; Chellamani is like my brother to me. I was lonely…Very much lonely”,

Muthu started weeping as he continued, “Only Chellamani understood me…he listen to me like dear friend…And you want to kill Chellamani…you want to eat Chellamani my Nanban, my friend for your giving thanks. I am also thankful for giving me Chellamani. How can I let you kill my friend? I leave gate door everyday open for him to escape but he no escape…he always with my side”

George Enzo, the CEO of a billion dollar firm had just melted by this middle-aged man’s response. He thought he would hear some excuses or apologies, which he had intended to hear. But there was no apology, No Sorry Sir, because according to Muthu himself, he had not committed any crime. On hearing such an honest and simple heartfelt answer to his heartfelt question, George Enzo began to dwell on the simplicity of life. He believed he had attained more of a spiritual waking with this genuine reply from the man in a police lock up, than those hundreds of crappy books he had read on spirituality written by con artists and psychic bigots who wrote books to tease and play with human emotions. He could not imagine that this kitchen helper believed that he was in jail for hiding a friend and not for stealing a turkey. This world was truly a complex place and George Enzo realized that a relationship between Muthu and Chellamani was an uncommonly simple one to fit inside and was definitely required in the world.

George bowed his head and joined his hands for a Namaskar pose. He went up to the Inspector and instructed him to drop the case and that Muthu could keep the turkey which he had hid in another sister’s home.

At that instance he felt like the US President pardoning a lucky turkey, but George quickly felt one up than the President because he had also pardoned the turkey robber.

On the stairs of the Police Station and before partying away, George Enzo offered Muthu some money for all the trouble he had undergone.

“No Sir…No money…I want only one more favor.”

“What is it? Tell me how I can help you?” asked George Enzo.

“I wanting female turkey for Chellamani…he also lonely…he wanting company”, replied Muthu.

“What do you mean Robbed! What happened? I need to know how it was robbed”, Commanded the ruler of this dinner night. The anger had removed this ruler’s modesty but his subjects were still unaware of the situation. “Isn’t this a five star hotel? I need to know details.”

“Sir we know who robbed it…it was the kitchen helper who was taking care of the turkey over these days. The turkey was with him till last night when I personally went to do the check. He was supposed to bring the turkey to the hotel this morning but he did not show up. We panicked and went to his home but he was not there. He ran away with your turkey…Sir…We have informed the police sir…We did not know how to break this news to you sir…I would like to apologize about the whole thing sir. I will ask our management to give your company a discount for this unseen disaster sir…I apologize again.”

“I don’t care about a discount said the CEO, I should have been informed about this weird circumstance that we are in right now. If there is any progress in finding this man. Let me know. I am here for another two days. I want to know why I was robbed of my turkey and my Thanksgiving. Ask the police to take action and arrest him. I want this man to be found. ”George Enzo had to calm down with the excuse put forth, he had no other choice. He could continue being pissed off with the situation or enjoy the dinner. He decided the latter. He was now also intrigued about this bizarre situation and wanted to know the kitchen helper’s motive. On the other hand, his family, guests and subjects could care less about a turkey gone missing or robbed. His wife was a vegan; his two daughters could never make out the difference between turkey and chicken meatwhile the rest of the people had never even seen a live turkey before.

The next day was work as usual for Enzo India and many of the company’s top management would walk into their offices at noon and with a hangover of the previous night. But as usual George Enzo had woken up early and was waiting for the breakfast to be brought into his hotel suite. He had a few appointments fixed with some Indian businessmen and was going to spend the evening sightseeing along with his family. The headwaiter had accompanied his breakfast. “Good Morning Sir,” he said sounding very cheerful. George Enzo responded to the welcome and asked him, “Any progress about last night’s situation?” “Yes Sir, Infact there has been Sir… that is why I came to serve you your breakfast personally and to inform you that the Police have caught Muthu”

“Who is Muthu?”

“Muthu the kitchen helper…Sir…He was found hiding in one of his sister’s home.”

“And what about the turkey?”

“Sir…about that…There was no turkey…he was all alone.”

“No turkey…did he eat it?”

“You could be right Sir. I’m sure that savage must have cooked and eaten the turkey; I guess that is why he was on the run. He is a bloody lower caste, his kind are a little uncivilized and they eat even mice if they are hungry…I am a Brahmin…Sir…we do not eat meat”

“Good For you…but did he confess he ate the turkey?”

“No Sir he did not. Infact he has not spoken a word so far. He is in the lock up and he has not told the police anything.”

“I would like to meet him then.”

“Sir, But, I don’t understand Sir why you want to meet him, justice has been served. That low class will rot in prison for a while and then he will know never to steal and eat another man’s turkey. I knew he was trouble when he was hired. I told the management that but they did not listen. See what happened now?”

“No I have to meet him; I want to know why he robbed me of my ritualistic dinner. Thanksgiving dinner is always special for me and I wanted to have it perfect for my children. This thanksgiving was almost perfect and the absence of the turkey will remain as a scar in my head. I don’t appreciate failure especially to things I hold close to me and last night’s dinner was really close to me. I’ve even fired my personal secretary for four years; I sent her a stinker email about this mishap. She should have thought of a backup plan. How could she have not overlooked your hotel plans and not advised you guys to send another turkey here. I’ve even sent some ‘stinkers’ to your top management in the hotel about this. Now, I have a few meetings and I should get done with them by noon after which I will make a visit to the police station. If you could, please inform them of my arrival”

“Yes sir, gladly sir…anything else sir”

“Yes one more thing I need to know does this Muthu…does he speak English?”

“Very little of it… all broken English Sir…not as good as me sir. He can understand but cannot speak fluently and polished like my English sir.”

George Enzo deliberately indulged in an act of reminiscence on his childhood thanksgiving days while he was riding the air-conditioned car. He had just finished his business meetings and was on his way to the police station. Memories of his father were always associated with the celebrations. His father was a true patriot and believed in upholding the tradition of the country saying that it brought a man closer to his land and even closer to his family and loved ones. For George, his father was his only true hero. He recollected the struggling years when there was hardly any money in the house even to pay electricity bills and buy new clothes, but somehow his father would take a loan. He had even sold his gold ring and watch to make sure the day and dinner was just perfect for his family of five. There was always a turkey no matter how horrible the financial situation for Thanksgiving dinner. And when things got better and his father’s business did well, his father died with a sudden heart failure. George Enzo was in his early twenties back then and his father had left the family plentiful and a good business which was growing each day. His father never got to enjoy the good days and the grand Thanksgiving days, which followed. This was the reason why he followed this tradition so religiously.

George Enzo entered the police station; the police inspector was keenly observing the tall white man inside his station. The only white people the inspector had encountered so far were the breed of backpackers who were always dressed shabbily, smelt bad and carried heavy bags on their shoulders. George Enzo was a refreshingly well dressed white man who seemed very rich. He readily entertained the request of this gentleman who wanted to see ‘Muthu the turkey robber’. The inspector told George that Muthu had not spoken a word since his capture and they were waiting for the hotel to put an official charge against him. The inspector arranged for a chair to be kept near the lock up bars. It was dark inside the cell and Muthu was ordered by the inspector to come near the bars.

George saw a very placid face emerge from the darkness into the dim light. The inspector introduced George to the man inside the lock up as the official owner of the turkey and left them alone.

He sat in silence for quite some time and stared at Muthu who was avoiding the stare by constantly glancing away. And then George Enzo broke the silence and spoke slowly so that the prisoner could understand.

“I thought you Indian People are very religious, you welcome, admire and respect all traditions and customs. I heard you even incorporate a few of them that is why I guess you have so many gods and rituals yourselves…tell me then one thing, All I have is this one tradition called Thanksgiving. This is a tradition which reminds me of my dead father. It is very dear to me. Why did you steal my thanksgiving from me? Why did you take away my turkey? What did you do with it? I need to know the reason for your disrespect of my one and only tradition which I hold so close to my heart and which I always want to be perfect. Tell me…why?”

Tears rolled down Muthu’s empathizing eyes. “Turkey my Nanban, Turkey my friend,” he repeated, “I take care of turkey so long…he become close friend. I named turkey Chellamani…he become precious to me…we are very close; Chellamani is like my brother to me. I was lonely…Very much lonely”,

Muthu started weeping as he continued, “Only Chellamani understood me…he listen to me like dear friend…And you want to kill Chellamani…you want to eat Chellamani my Nanban, my friend for your giving thanks. I am also thankful for giving me Chellamani. How can I let you kill my friend? I leave gate door everyday open for him to escape but he no escape…he always with my side”

George Enzo, the CEO of a billion dollar firm had just melted by this middle-aged man’s response. He thought he would hear some excuses or apologies, which he had intended to hear. But there was no apology, No Sorry Sir, because according to Muthu himself, he had not committed any crime. On hearing such an honest and simple heartfelt answer to his heartfelt question, George Enzo began to dwell on the simplicity of life. He believed he had attained more of a spiritual waking with this genuine reply from the man in a police lock up, than those hundreds of crappy books he had read on spirituality written by con artists and psychic bigots who wrote books to tease and play with human emotions. He could not imagine that this kitchen helper believed that he was in jail for hiding a friend and not for stealing a turkey. This world was truly a complex place and George Enzo realized that a relationship between Muthu and Chellamani was an uncommonly simple one to fit inside and was definitely required in the world.

George bowed his head and joined his hands for a Namaskar pose. He went up to the Inspector and instructed him to drop the case and that Muthu could keep the turkey which he had hid in another sister’s home.

At that instance he felt like the US President pardoning a lucky turkey, but George quickly felt one up than the President because he had also pardoned the turkey robber.

On the stairs of the Police Station and before partying away, George Enzo offered Muthu some money for all the trouble he had undergone.

“No Sir…No money…I want only one more favor.”

“What is it? Tell me how I can help you?” asked George Enzo.

“I wanting female turkey for Chellamani…he also lonely…he wanting

company”, replied Muthu.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Loved how the story unfolded. The humor was exquisite. Couldnt ask for a better ending, the mention of the turkey’s lonliness was both hilarious and touchingly sad.

  2. I just want to mention I am just new to weblog and definitely liked your web blog. Almost certainly I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You definitely have fantastic stories. With thanks for revealing your web-site.

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