Now, don’t get too excited, this story is not set in Spain. I have never been there, so how on earth do you expect me to write about it. But I HAVE been to Mount Crescent, where my childhood friend Stoppgappi is the Resident Wizard. You remember him, right? Teenager, lives alone in the forest by a river, with only his maid Diana to provide him occasional company when she is around doing the household chores like jhaadu, pocha, bartan etc. in the morning. And, who just happens to be a full-fledged daayan, one of the 13 daayan sisters who live in a cave up the mountain.
Our story begins on a morning as usual (stories should always begin on mornings, unless they are crime thrillers or horror stories, in which case, they CAN begin at night I guess). Diana had just finished cleaning the house, and was now cooking Stoppgappi’s breakfast, when she suddenly heard him exclaim loudly, and in some distress. She immediately put the gas stove on Sim, and rushed to check out what calamity had fallen on her Stoppu Baba.
But she was relieved to see that he was safe and sound, though the same couldn’t be said about his dressing gown, which, for some bizarre reason, appeared to be on fire. She quickly took a jug of water lying on the dining table, and threw it on Stoppgappi to douse the fire, but that only resulted in a louder cry from him, due to the following reasons, in no particular order:
- She had thrown the jug along with the water (much in the same fashion as the French used to throw the baby out with the bathwater)
- The jug actually did not have any water
- The jug then fell on a one-foot tall dragon who was standing next to Stoppgappi’s leg, and it bit him as a reflex action
“OWWWW,” cried out Stoppgappi, “Diana, why on earth are you trying to kill me? Main ek chhota sa, nanha sa wizard hoon, maine tumhaara kya bigaada hai?” Diana started defending herself, but suddenly stopped mid-sentence, because she just realized the implications of point no. 3 above…THERE WAS A DRAGON IN THE ROOM!
“What what what what…..” Diana started stammering, and couldn’t stop ‘What’ing even if she wanted to. Taking apparent pleasure in her shock and discomfort, Stoppgappi very calmly said,”Why are you so flabbergasted Diana, haven’t you seen a dragon in a drawing room before?”
“Errrrrrr NOOOOOOOO,” replied Diana in a tone that was anything but calm (Let’s just say that if Stoppgappi’s tone was calm like Lake Placid, without that giant man-eating crocodile of course, Diana’s was like the Niagara and Victoria Falls rolled into one humongous waterfall). “Aren’t dragons extinct?” she continued. Pat came the reply, “Aren’t daayans extinct?”
Diana looked up sharply towards Stoppgappi, but realized that it was not him who had spoken. So, that meant….THAT NOT ONLY WAS THERE A DRAGON IN THE ROOM, IT COULD ALSO SPEAK, AND KNEW WHO SHE WAS IN REALITY!
She started stuttering once again, and Stoppgappi finally decided to put her out of her misery. He said, “I woke up late last night because I thought the room was becoming a bit warm. On checking, I realized that someone was throwing fire inwards from the top of the chimney. I immediately used a spell to douse the fire with fire-extinguishing foam, and heard a loud cry of pain, and something tumbled down the chimney. It was then that I saw young Tiplu here, coughing relentlessly, as the foam had entered his throat. I used the vacuum-cleaning spell to take out the foam and free his air passage immediately of course.” (In reality, not being aware of any spell that could help him, he had just used a Eureka Forbes vacuum cleaner that he used every Diwali for cleaning his carpet, sofa and curtains, but she didn’t need to know that, he had a reputation to protect after all)
After waiting for a few seconds to observe Diana acknowledge and appreciate his wizarding genius, Stoppgappi continued with his story, “The little guy thanked me profusely for saving his life, and then told me the reason for coming to meet me. By now, you must have guessed that he has obviously come to ask for help from a great Wizard like me.”
Stoppgappi went droning on, sonorously and self-importantly, “He told me that his name was Pablo Tiplez, it’s quite a mouthful, so I have decided to call him Tiplu. He is the youngest son of a tribe of farmer dragons in a village called Granada in Spain(not to be confused with a city called Granada in Spain), Granada obviously being an anagram for Dragon.”
Something didn’t sound quite right, so Diana performed some extremely tough and complex calculations (for her) in her head and finally asked, hesitatingly, “But Stoppu Baba, Dragon has an ‘O’ in it, but Granada doesn’t, so how can it be its anagram?”
That seemed to have stumped our wizarding genius for a bit, but so what if he couldn’t fly like a bird (or a dragon for that matter), his imagination could outsoar the best of them. He quickly retorted, “Do you know Spanish at all? Just like Bongs can’t pronounce any word without an ‘O’ sound, Spaniards do not have an alphabet for ‘O’, so they use two ‘AAs’ instead- DRAGAAN, capisce? By the way, just to enlighten you, capisce is Spanish for ‘understood’, understood?
At this point, the dragon could not control himself any longer, and butted in, “It is Italian O Great Wizard, not Spanish,” but Stoppgappi had already committed to a track, and in this aspect, he was like Salman Khan of Wanted. So he scowled threateningly at the dragon and said, “But you are too young to be aware of the fact that it was Spanish first, and Spain donated it to Italy in the year 436 AD. They taught us the secret history of the world in the Wizarding School, you know, where obviously you have never set foot.”
The dragon looked suitably abashed, and so Stoppgappi continued with his story, “Tiplu’s village liesin the Sierra Nevada mountain range. But they are facing great hardship because of the rains, or rather the lack of them.” Diana was very surprised at this, and said, “But Baba, I always thought there is plenty of rain in Spain, just like all European countries.”
Stoppgappi tut-tutted loudly and said in a patronizing tone, “Dear Diana, in the good old days, long before you were born, the mountains of Spain used to be lush green, with rainfall through the year, because of which Tiplu’s family could earn a decent living, sowing and harvesting their Rabi and Kharif crops at regular intervals. But then… a great English wizard named Professor Henry Higgins wanted to impress an uneducated but pretty girl called Eliza Doolittle, and in the process, accidentally cast a spell by singing, ‘The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.’
Lo and behold, the mountains stopped getting rains at all, and since more than 50 years now, there is a drought in their region. On top of that, their zamindaar is now asking for tiguna lagaan, which is literally the last straw on the dragon’s back, and so, like anyone with even half a functional brain, the villagers have finally sent out a message to ME, asking me for help in getting rains back into their area.”
Stoppgappi continued, “So please pack our bags, we leave immediately.” “OUR bags?” Diana ejaculated, and Stoppgappi replied, “Of course, Spain is a hard-core non-vegetarian country, what will I get to eat there if you are not there with me to cook paranthas, pulaav and paneer for me?
So Stoppgappi and Diana bid Sayonara to Tiplu, who was obviously flying back, took an Uber to the airport (since they couldn’t fly), and were off, to another rip-roaring adventure. And whether good fortune would rain on them in Spain, or they would be parched for luck, is something that we will find out only in the second part of this story, so don’t go anywhere, we will be right back, with Part II!
P.S. Ahem ahem….it is at this point that a keen observer (hopefully all my readers) will ask-“Didn’t you say that we will not be going to Spain?” Well, that was then, but this now, I did not know that Tiplu would land up from Spain, or that Stoppgappi and Diana will travel to Spain to bring rain to the mountains, after all, I am just a humble narrator, what do I know? Stories have a life of their own, don’t they?