am snuggled in bed under the razai engrossed in shashi deshpande's "writing from the margin and other essays." a luxury earned after many weeks, after many saturdays working at nid. hubby nudges me out of razai and urges me to accompany him to the park for a 3 pm walk. at first i think he’s lost his mind. the next moment i see myself reading the book under the winter sun on a park bench or lying on the grass. super.
there is a catch here. we would be taking mithi along he says. “awright”, i mutter, “as long as she lets me read.” hubby takes mithi’s hand and they go down first—to the basement to take the car out. i follow them five minutes later. car eases up the ramp and glides to a halt. great. i plonk myself on the front seat with my book and a big mug of coffee.
hear giggling. turn around. there’s mithi. and aastha. and bebo. and mehek. and muskaan. and kathan. they grin at me. pigtails, plaits, glasses, scarves and big toothie smiles. i see my rosy picture of a quiet afternoon under the sun dissolve in a fancy powerpoint option.
we reach the park and i find my favourite corner bench. sun’s just right. half of the bench is in the sun, the other half in the shade. children run all over the place. i slide down the bench and sit on the grass. coffee’s frothy and bitter sweet. umm.. lose myself in bookopia.
for precisely 47 seconds. here’s what happens next:
3.20 pm. park. far end of the grass: EIIIIIAAA! AUNTY, KATHAN SNATCHED MY WATERBOTTLE AND THREW IT IN A PUDDLE!
3.20 pm. park. near the fountain: AUNTY! MITHI’S RUNNING ROUND AND ROUND THE FOUNTAIN AND THE WATER’S FOLLOWING HER! AUNTY. I WANT TO PEE!
3.20 pm. park. Jogger’s path: ROSY! THESE TWO KIDS AREN’T LETTING ME WALK! THEY ARE TUGGING AT MY TRACK PANTS! DO SOMETHING!
my head spins from 90 degrees to 25 and then to 120.
next two hours have me run from one pair to another. screaming my head off. wailing like enya. or was it sheryl crow? cajole one child to quietly pee behind some bushes on the periphery. she protests, “i do not know how to do it while squatting on grass. insects will bite me.” screech at another to not bully his sister. manage to save a third from falling into the fountain. run behind mithi who is running behind bebo who is chasing kathan who has his eyes set on grabbing a kite that’s careening to the ground. crashh into a tree instead and sprawl on the ground like goofy in those disney capers. have a purple bump on my nose. look up to find all six devils laughing at me. wish the gooly gooly witch could smack them with her broomstick. walk wonkily to the bench. spill water from a water bottle onto the book. great! now swadhaben will put me on the electric chair.
children come and tug at my sleeves. we are hungry. we want to eat something (look at my face. feel sorry). okay. we will eat at home. so, play hide and seek with us. you be IT. i run around like a maniac looking for six kids everywhere. after 20 minutes find them playing oranges and lemons at the far end of the park.
hubby’s walking like a well oiled wrestler in the ring all this while. comes and settles himself majestically on the bench next to me. “ gorgeous afternoon, nahin?" i am ready to clobber him. or grind him to dust.
back into the car. all the kids are shreiking. aastha, bebo and mithi yank, "Chak de o chak de india" from inside their bowels and dangerously close to my ears. i shake my head like zeenat aman lip synching 'dum maaro dum' in hare rama hare krishna. kids are happy. hubby is happy. where's my disprin?