“I told you to stop doing that!” the mother admonished her boy a second time as he continued to blow bubbles in his bowl of cold milk with a straw. Getting him to finish his breakfast without drama was climbing fast in the list of rants she had with her life. Heavens knew she had other, bigger things to worry about.
“But, Mamma, I don’t want to go there,” the son wailed. “No, No, NO!” his voice began to rise with each utterance of resistance.
The mother sighed. It was the same argument over and over again. ‘My beautiful boy, but stubborn like an ass!’ she thought. She had already tried her damndest to make him shift to the other house just a few blocks away but everything had proved futile so far.
“But you won’t be there na, Mamma!” had been his first pushback when she had broached the subject with him several months ago.
“I will keep visiting, my little baby,” she had tried to counter-argue. “Plus, Ramu Kaka will be there. And Bhalloo, your favourite teddy. All your toys! You won’t even miss Mamma after a while!”
“NO!” The intransigent monster had stuck to his toy guns.
Then, a few days later, she had tried to change her tactics. “Ok, so how about I go live with you in your new home for a few days? Will that make you happy?” she had asked.
“Yes! But what will you do after a few days?”
“I will return back here,” she had said quietly. “Mamma can’t stay there forever, my child.”
It wasn’t just her efforts that had proved futile. Several other Uncles and Aunties had urged him, too, but none of it had mattered.
Today, she had decided that she needed to get to the root cause of his obstinacy.
“Are you scared to go there?” she had asked him a few minutes ago as they started breakfast.
“No…” The voice sounded timid.
‘So, he is scared!’ the intuitive mother realized immediately. No wonder he had been resisting so vehemently! No amount of toys, gifts, threats or mollycoddling was going to help if she didn’t address his primal fears. She needed to know what it was. Ghosts? Girls? Old men with scary beards?
“What is the matter, my poor baby?” asked the concerned mother in her best kindly voice. Then, suddenly sensing that the boy probably didn’t want to go to the new house because he was scared of the man who already lived there, she asked, “Has that man said something to you?” Her voice was back to being mildly angry.
“No…” the quivering voice repeated.
“Tell me, boy!” the mother demanded sternly this time.
“No, he hasn’t said anything!” he said, almost in tears.
“No? Then why are you scared of him?”
“Because he doesn’t say anything! He just stares at me quietly. I think he wants to eat me!”
The mother laughed loudly. Her stupid little boy.
“He is not going to eat you! It’s not that he doesn’t talk to you alone. He talks to no one!”
“So, is he dumb?”
“No!” the mother said angrily. “Don’t use foul language against Singh Uncle! And remember, he will leave once you arrive there. So there is nothing to fear anyway!”
The mother was interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind her. It was the maid. She was panting as she walked briskly.
“Madam?” the maid said as she faced the mistress. “Priyanka Baby is on the phone. She says it is urgent.”
‘Bloody hell,’ shrieked the mother in her mind. ‘What has Robby done now?’ she wondered. As she pushed back her dining chair and rose, she gave a stern look at the boy again.
“Listen here, no more fussing! You are shifting to No. 7 next year. It is DONE. No more arguments!”
The sullen boy’s face fell. The lower lip trembled and the eyes welled up promptly.
“And you had better finish those cornflakes before I come back after dealing with your sister!”
I hope the reader has realized that this is not a short story, merely pretending to be one! After all, I don’t want the CBI coming to arrest me in the middle of the night and hauling me away to jail in my underwear. With my pretty looks, nasty things could happen to me there!
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme of this festival is SEVEN, so do pay attention to where that number has been used.