On retirement form the army, Santa and Banta settled in adjoining villages on the Kalka-Simla highway. One day Santa invited Banta to dinner to meet his visiting relations from London. Banta thought that as the path was steep it would be useful for him to take a lantern with him for use on the return journey. The party went on very well till about midnight, with a lot of wining and dining. Banta left in a jolly mood and reached home safely in the early hours.
The next morning there was a knock on the door. "Santa Sahib sent me to enquired whether you reached home safe and sound last night," Santa`s servant said.
With a smile, Banta replied, "Oh yes. There was no problem,"
The servant then said, "Sir, you left your lantern at our place; instead you brought along the cage of our parrot with you. I have come to return you lantern and take back the cage."
The worried Preeto sprang to the telephone when it rang and listened with relief to the kindly voice in her ear.
"How are you, darling?" she said. "What kind of a day are you having?"
"Oh, mother," said Preeto, breaking into bitter tears, "I've had such a bad day. The baby won't eat and the washing machine broke down. I haven't had a chance to go shopping, and besides, I've just sprained my ankle and I have to hobble around. On top of that, the house is a mess and I'm supposed to have two couples to dinner tonight."
The mother was shocked and was at once all sympathy. "Oh, darling," she said, "sit down, relax, and close your eyes. I'll be over in half an hour. I'll do your shopping, clean up the house, and cook your dinner for you. I'll feed the baby and I'll call a repairman. I know who'll be at your house to fix the washing machine promptly. Now stop crying. I'll do everything. In fact, I'll even call Ashok at the office and tell him he ought to come home and help out for once."
"Ashok?" said Preeto. "Who's Ashok?"
"Why, Ashok! Your husband!....Is this 2369125?
"No, this is 2369135."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I have the wrong number."
There was a short pause and Preeto said, "Does this mean you're not coming over?"
Santa and Banta meet in the street. Santa looked dejected and almost on the verge of tears.
Banta said, "Hey, how come you look like the whole world caved in?"
Santa said, "Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me fifty lacs."
"That`s not bad."
"Hold on, I`m just getting started. Two weeks ago, a cousin I never knew died and left me twenty lacs."
"I`d like that."
"Last week my grandfather passed away. I inherited almost a million."
"The how come you look so glum?"
"This week - nothing!"
Banta goes to see his supervisor in the front office.
"Sir," he says, "we're doing some heavy house-cleaning at home tomorrow, and my wife, Preeto, needs me to help with the top floor and the garage, moving and hauling stuff."
"We're short-handed, Banta," the boss replies. "I can't give you the day off."
"Thanks, Sir," says Banta, "I knew I could count on you!"