A Boy Named Current

Sunday afternoon and Vidya was at the salon. I was watching something nondescript on TV and trying hard to keep awake. The doorbell rang.

I blearily stumbled to the door and opened it to find a small boy, maybe ten or eleven years old, standing outside. He looked up at me and said, “Current?”

“Uhh…?” was all I could manage in response.

“Is current there?” he asked, a tad impatiently.

Now, this was a puzzling question, especially given that the TV was blaring rather loudly from the opposite flat. Then, I reasoned that the boy was probably from a flat directly below ours – maybe the wires ran in a particular way and he had been sent up to find out whether a fuse had blown or whether there was a power outage. Anyway, I wondered why his parents hadn’t just called the colony electrician or the complex office. My sleep-befuddled brain, though not operating very well linearly, seemed to be on a blisteringly lateral path. For a moment I even thought that I was at the receiving end of a typically Tamil joke where one guy calls up another and asks if there is power at his place. When he answers in the affirmative, he is asked to bring along a couple of kilos as there is an outage in the other chap’s house. I know – it sounds better and makes a lot more sense in Tamil. There was no telling what deviltry the little brat was up to.

I reached out and switched on the tubelight, which lazily flickered on. I looked meaningfully at it and then back at the little boy. When he remained unresponsive, I had no choice but to mutter, “Yes, it’s there,” pointing helpfully to the light.

The boy remained where he was, looking rather despondently at me. Finally he burst out, “Can you call him?”

It was then that it dawned on me that he was actually asking for his friend named Karan, and he had come to the wrong house. I quickly told him that he was at the wrong door, and before he could laugh out loud at me, had closed the door and retreated to my TV.