he had me foxed with his calm reason as we made our way through the chaos of the hospital reception. you had to have your bag checked, your body searched and your business sanctioned before you were allowed to pass through to the bank of elevators. my four and a half year old hand baggage got both of us shunted off to the seating area where the squatters gathered waiting for news of their dearly beloved. police uncle did not allow in children under twelve he warned me when i wondered if we could sneak up the stairs. phlegmatically he unlaced his shoes, opened up his frooti and climbed into a chair in the front row to wait.
so tum batao...tumhari girlfriend ka naam kya hai?
he was super excited today because his princess was finally coming home. i heard all about her for the next one hour. how everything he was wearing today, his jeans, his jacket, his tshirt, his belt, his shoes and his taveez had been given to him by her. how she bought him his electric car when papa refused to let him drive the innova. how they raced when they bathed together to see who’d finish first. how they would check for squeaky clean ears to decide on the winner of the game. where will she sleep, he wondered. he was sure mamma wouldn’t let her sleep with him now that she was so ill. would she be able to eat with them at the table, or would mausi feed her? perhaps they would let him take chutti from school, or maybe just feed her before and after he went to school…
after awhile i couldn’t take it anymore. chocolate khane chalen?
when we got back from the store the driver was waiting at the hospital to take us home. he raced ahead of me up the stairs and when i walked into the front door he was clutching choti boo’s hand and staring at princess boo wrapped up in white sheets on the hallway floor. choti boo had just told him that god took his princess away.
frankly, he had no idea what choti boo was talking about. over the last week he had become used to people crying when they came to see princess boo and to her lying quietly and not reaching for him. bored, he asked me if we could go for a drive until all the people went away. but choti boo said no, that he must stay. so he did as he was told and patiently waited for his turn. he was thrilled when he got to bathe her with choti boo, even though mamma said no. after all, he is the one who picked out princess boo’s favourite shampoo and salwaar kameez, insisted choti boo.
they left him behind and they took his princess away on a palanquin. they said he was too young to come along, just like in the hospital. unlike choti boo he didn’t stand crying by the window sill. instead, like a wise old man he wistfully sighed to himself...i can’t wait to be one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, TWELVE years old.
image credit: 'the kiss' by gustav klimt, www.ecst.csuchico.edu
thirty, female, single, living in mumbai. i drink copious cups of filter coffee, collect the mandatory festival packs of chocolate, negotiate with the cats for a corner of the couch by the window and squash in between a pile of books, my lap top and a bowl of pop corn. then i have a long think about life. i get paid to do this. my remaining time i spend acquiring the life experience necessary to mastermind my mid life crisis. this i do not get paid to do, and can therefore do absolute justice to.