Venkat slowly sneaked into the kitchen.He waz looking for the aluminium box which his mom had safely hid behind the big china pickle pots on the top rack.He knew,it waz that time of the day when his mom would be discussing matters of mutual interest with the neigbouring aunty.Venkat generally did not care what they talked,but once or twice he happened to observe his mom deeply absorbed in an animated conversation with her equally animated listener.

On careful eavesdropping(or in his case,adam's dropping *grin*could'nt resist this one!),he gleaned rather intersting tidbits about a wide range of issues afflicting humanity including (but not restricted to)

  1. The news of his next door neigbour's daughter attaining puberty
  2. The utter lack of service of servant maids
  3. The next date for obtaining subsidised sugar at the nearest govt ration office
  4. The evening newcaster's color-blindness in choosing an appropriate match for her saree and blouse
  5. Their husbands' inabilty to cook or do any household chores
  6. A detailed recipe for making mysore style of uppuma
  7. A spirited discussion on the outcome of the latest mega-serial on the TV.

Venkat knew,while his mom had so much ground to cover and so many gossips to exchange, he had all the time in the world to ransack the kitchen shelves to find that elusive aluminum box.It waz,in a way, a treasure trove (a kaya-kalpa if u like!), his mom's own secret bank, where she managed to nurture, build, nest and cultivate an assortment of cash and coins.Mom waz ofcourse the de-facto finance minister of the house,but,as all finance ministers do,she had her own contingency funds that never got revealed to the public.It waz from this 'emergency fund' that his mom managed to surprise the family with some exotic dish that would involve costly ingredients sprinkled with cardomom,cashews and elaichi.
It waz also from this secret bank that Venkat got his Vitamin-M to entertain friends by taking them to movies or dining at fancy roadside dhaabas(true..roadside dhaabas seemed to be more fancier than those drab,lifeless upscale restaurants!).This fund waz also involved in gaining the gratitude and loyalty of numerous people that mom came across in her daily life--Venkat had seen his mom helping the servant maid buy books for her poor kids to go to school.He had witnessed how the milkman battled his tears(for he waz a man, u see and should'nt be seen crying!) touched by Mom's show of affection and offer to buy a new pair of sandals for his world-weary legs.This fund also accounted for a sudden arrival of some new kitchen utensil.Venkat wondered what would happen if an Accountant were asked to tabulate and itemize the spendings under relevant classifications.It sure would drive him crazy,because there were just too many items to hold under such a broad,totally inadequate description as "miscellaneous".

It waz this same box that Venkat waz raiding today.He needed money and he needed it now.He knew his mom would not refuse him if he asked for it,but then,he would have to give explanations and worse,justifications for the urgent necessity!It would be followed by "what?when?why?can't it wait?is it absolutely essential?Don't I make good Dosa at home? Can'u call ur friends here?is there a girl involved? etc,.etc,.Venkat wanted to bypass this cross-examination system(he had observed it to be quite common among motherfolks..He waz secretly happy when he found Bala's mom demanding the answers for the same set of questions.At times,it made him wonder whether all mothers went to the same school of thought?),and what better way to achieve that than to hack into the secretive kitchen system!He knew his mom never really kept track of the exact amount that the box held,since it waz an assortment of coins and cash.He opened the lid,sifted through the cash,took around 40 bucks,substituted 3 one rupee notes in its place(this way,even if his mom happened to open the lid,she would'nt suspect!),closed the lid,arranged the shelves and slowly sneaked away.His mom waz still discussing in the verendah.Having accomplished his Mission successfully,Venkat casually walked out of the kitchen...!

Three years later....

Venkat slowly sneaked into the kitchen.His mom was in the hall, entertaining some guests who had come to visit Venkat after a long time.Venkat waz surprised that after all these years some things had'nt changed.He peeked into the shelves and smiled when he found that secret bank of his Mom's lying undisturbed.He opened it,took a wad of notes from his pocket and stuffed it inside.He suddenly felt light and happy.