Growing up in Simla, my brother, Pappoo (Biswaranjan Banerjee) was known as Shikari among the kids at the Christorphen Hotel, a four storeyed residential complex at Lakkar Bazar. He had a reputation for being able to hit an object 8 out of 10 times, so the name was well-earned. But it wasn’t just his marksmanship that made him a legend among the children of our locality. No, Shikari had a talent for pranks and loved nothing more than causing chaos wherever he went.
One winter day, just after a snowfall, we were standing in the corridor of our building when Shikari saw the postman trudging through the snow to deliver letters and packages to our residential society. Without a second thought, my brother scooped up a handful of snow and threw it at the postman’s back. The snowball hit the head of the postman with a satisfying thud, and the Nehru cap the postman was wearing fell down. He spun around, his face red with anger.
“Who did that?” he shouted, scanning the street for the culprit. But all he saw was no one. We ran and hid at Baba’s, our friend’s house on the fourth floor.
Infuriated, the postman marched up to Baba’s house and knocked on the door. When Mauli, Baba’s sister opened the door, the postman launched into a tirade about the boy’s misbehavior. “He threw a snowball at me!” he exclaimed. “I demand an apology!”
Mauli, always up for a laugh, played dumb and said, “No one is here.” She even invited the postman inside to see for himself that there were no children in the house. Meanwhile, we were hiding under the cot, in the washroom, and even in the closet, trying to stifle our giggles.
The postman grumbled and muttered under his breath as he trudged back down the snowy street. But little did he know that Shikari and his friends were hiding inside the house, giggling uncontrollably.
We saw the whole thing from the window, and we couldn’t believe our luck. Shikari had managed to pull off the prank of the century, and the children were all in awe of him. “Shikari is a genius,” one kid exclaimed. “He could make a snowball out of thin air!”
For days afterward, the children talked about nothing else but Shikari’s snowball stunt. And every time they saw the postman making his rounds, they would snicker and whisper to each other, knowing that they had outsmarted him.
As for Shikari, he was on top of the world. He had proven once again that he was the king of pranks, and he couldn’t wait to see what kind of mischief he could get up to next. “The postman will never see it coming,” he said, a mischievous glint in his eye. “I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.”
In the end, the postman never got his apology. But he learned a valuable lesson about the mischievous children of Shimla, and he made sure to keep a sharp eye out for snowballs whenever he was on their street. “I’ll be ready for them next time,” he said, determined not to be caught off guard again. “Those little devils won’t get the best of me!”