Monday, December 28, 2009

Uncle Jal and the Air Gun Incident

'He insisted on taking her to a gun club. There he explained to her how the pistol worked. It was a .40 Smith and Wesson semi-automatic with a four inch barrel. Since Lucky couldn't hold it and chamber a shell at the same time, Mike said she should carry it 'hot', that is with a shell already loaded.' (p189)

Since Lucky's assailant was untraceable and her cottage had been broken into, Mike thought she should protect herself. Hence takes her to a shooting range to learn how to wield a pistol.But how safe is it really to use a pistol in self defence?

My Uncle Jal was extremely proud of his air gun that he got as a sixteen year old from all the money he had collected for his birthday. His mother of course was most upset and told her son that it was sheer folly to have such a dangerous weapon at home.

"Nonsense, Ma," he pooh-poohed her assuring her that it was harmless. Besides, as he reminded her, he was such a poor shot that he never managed to hit a bull's eye even once. Gradually, Jal's passion for guns died out and the gun was brought out on occasion to frighten away the boys who used to used to encroach on his property to knock off the mangoes from his orchard. It soon became a David and Goliath contest with the local lads and their catapults, who loved seeing Jal's red face getting redder as he squinted and took aim, and getting even more florid when he completely missed.

However, one Sunday afternoon, Uncle Jal, totally lost in a post-Dhansak snooze made all the sweeter by the fact that he actually managed to finish the Sunday crossword, was enraged when he saw a group of boys giggling as they took shots at the ripe mangos just outside his window!! This time he got his gun and began firing aimlessly like a crazy coot. The boys ran away as soon as they saw him red-faced and screaming ........all but one who fell down clutching his leg.

The gardener and watchman went running to the young boy who it turned out had been hit by a stray slug! Needless to say, it was the last time my uncle Jal fired his gun for as his mother pointed out : the only time you didn't aim, you actually shot someone - so you'd really better stop!

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