The revenge of the toilet-paper snatchers
Eight years ago, my father was posted to a country in East Africa, renowned for its natural beauty and relative political stability.
Although I was living in the 'heart of darkness', there was little to engage and mystify me in the 'dark continent' - people are just people anywhere in the world. Except for one odd couple who visited us during our stay.
Hailing from good ol' England, this couple was as English as you can get. The woman, a quintessential horsey Brit, looked strikingly similar to her Majesty the Queen (to whom she was distantly related), while the husband looked like any typical artistocratic fop, with his ruddy cheeks, limp brown hair and slightly cock-eyed, inebriated look. What with their royal lineage and Oxbridge education, you would hardly expect them to be anything other than the perfect (if ever so slightly condescending) guests.
Alas, it was not to be. Although the couple were perfectly charming during dinner and tea, they were hiding from us a dirty secret, which we would have never known had it not been for our Sri Lankan maid, Darshani, who was put in charge of cleaning their room. Darshani, I must add, was the very antithesis of our guests - she was loud, her English was a thing of her own invention, and she was undiplomatic to the core. She was pretty much the queen of faux-pas.
The first faux-pas occured while we were all sitting around the living room after dinner on the second night of their stay, sipping on coffee and liqueur like perfectly civilized people. Darshani strode in to clear the cups, her silver anklets tinkling noisily.
"Oh Dur-shi-nie", the horsey woman spoke up, "Could we have another roll of toilet paper in our bathroom?"
"But I am putting already!" Darshani exclaimed, adding "You are already using?". The woman's thin crimson lips twitched uncomfortably, and my mother quickly intervened, instructing Darshani to add another roll of toilet paper immediately. Darshani turned away, muttering something we could not comprehend.
The next afternoon, our lovable lady drew Darshani aside and asked for another roll of toilet paper. Darshani knew better than to say anything to her, although she couldn't resist mentioning this to my mother, who was surprised by her friend's request. "Another one!?" she asked rhetorically, then worrying that their stomachs were upset. "Maybe the spices in my food irritated their bowels", she mused disconsolately, deciding to cook something blander for the evening.
My mother needn't have worried - no one could have conceivably consumed as much toilet paper as they did over the 8 days of their stay with us. We calculated that they must have used about one and a half rolls every day. And my mom's food ain't that spicy. Poor Darshani struggled to contain herself.
When they finally left, we all wandered into their room in curiosity, trying to figure out where all that toilet paper went. Had they been creating some massive papier-mache sculpture to surprise us with? Were they trying to wall-paper the room?
The room bore few answers, as did the bin. Indeed, when the trash was taken out, there was no trace even of those cardboard rollers on which the toilet paper is hung!
The case of the toilet-paper snatchers has remained intriguing and unsolved. We have tried, over the past years, to figure out what happened. How on earth could someone consume so much toilet-paper? Where did it go? What was it used for? The only thing we can come up with is that maybe they just really (and I mean REALLY) liked the quality of the paper. If only we had paid more attention to the shape of their bags when they were leaving, looking out for certain cylindrical shapes or curious grooves. As of now, I don't know what happened....its an enduring mystery.
What do you think?*
* [the most creative answer will get special mention on my blog, apart from satisfying my curiosity].