Banggggg …! I was shuddering to hear a deafening sound and saw the antique clock, a precious link to a glorious lineage, lying in state, shattered in bits and pieces. The two musketeers nonchalantly examined its broken needles. They were at it again … at their chivalry act after twelve long months.
Over beaten and virtually turned upside down, my house now looked like a site after a bomb blast. Freshly painted walls were disfigured overnight. The two little terrorists, making the walls their easels, drew on them a riot of portraits, doodles, cartoons and caricatures—all with pieces of charcoal.
It was Ganesh [my brother’s son] who would always start sowing wild oats. His caricature of Deena [my sister’s daughter]—with a big, swelled head, pigtails and flat nose—would provoke the little Joan of Arc to retaliate with all her feminine power. Ganesh would thus be shown standing in a puddle with a footnote telling us that he used to wet his bed at night and get slapped by his mother.
Let the walls wail in silence for their lost gleam. But, no good was the drawing room, which, to my horror, resembled like a vessel shop having had a herd of elephants for visitors. Contraption at home were either dismantled or displaced. Thus the DVD player took refuge in the kitchen and the Wet Grinder had a new home in the hall.
The book rack looked bare. The kids had since shifted the books in the drawing room and littered them on the floor. Lying down on the heaps of books, Deena would be reading ‘The Oxford Thesaurus’. Not to get beaten by her, Ganesh would immerse himself in the holy ‘Mahabharata’. On his nose was my pince-nez.
Sometimes, there broke out a fierce battle between the kids over trifle matters like, who would watch Pogo on the TV or who would play games in my lappy. What started as a war of words would end in violence; the two would be found either exchanging blows or throwing missiles at each other—missiles like, combs, hair brushes, spoons-- and they would always miss their target and hit either Kala, my wife, or me. At times Kala would broker peace between the two warriors but to no avail.
Gosh! We were in the midst of the summer riots again gleefully sparked off by the kids the moment they came down to our house from their country homes to spend their summer vacation. They were so enterprising and industrious that their no-holds-barred antics always put us on tender hooks for a month or two.
It was on a summer evening, I went berserk. It was now my turn to ransack the house and make it a virtual hell. I had misplaced the fine print of the ‘Blah Blah’, one of my writes, and that made me disoriented. I had to send it to a Weekly magazine and the deadline was fast approaching. The tyrants, as was their wont, had deleted this piece from my Desktop.
Moved by my predicament, Kala too joined my ‘operation-search-blah-blah’. We rummaged through the house not leaving the wardrobe and laundry, but drew blank. Missing out the ‘Blah Blah’ became mystery and I was upset over its sudden disappearance.
A new ‘Blah Blah’ came to life with unbearable birth pangs. I sat through the whole of the night and reconstructed it in the morning. It looked pedestrian; lacked in its original josh. I was then distracted by the tumultuous thunder claps and boisterous laughter coming out of the drawing room. I raced over there, Kala in tow.
I saw half-a-dozen neighborhood children sitting on the floor and clamoring for attention. Deena was standing beside a table stacked with some of my books. She draped herself in a shawl, brandishing a wooden scale at the children to keep them quiet.
‘Deena, why, what the hell is going on here?’ I flared.
‘Easwar, I’m not Deena, but your class Miss. Come and sit here. I’m distributing all your exam papers.’ She shot back, eyes serious, voice commanding.
‘Kala’, Deena turned her head to my wife.
‘Yes, Miss’, Kala spoke respectfully; her hands were submissively folded across her chest.
‘Kala’ Deena now smiled and spoke softly. ‘This is your exam paper. Well done. You got 98 out of 100.’
OMG! That’s my grocery list’, Kala screamed. ‘Been searching for it for days on end.’
‘Shush’, Deena put her finger on her lips. Kala became quiet. She was happy since she got back her grocery list.
Deena stopped me when I tried to move out of the classroom. She told me to get my paper and then go out. I stopped abruptly, smiled sheepishly at her. She then flipped through the pages of a heavy bound dictionary and took out a set of papers.
‘Good heavens.’ I screamed as Kala did a few minutes back. ‘Look. Kala, that’s my ‘Blah Blah’. My eyes gleamed as if I accidentally stumbled upon a long lost treasure trove.
‘Easwar,’ Deena snarled. ‘Your ‘Blah Blah’ is all rubbish; full of grammar mistakes. I’m sorry. You failed in English. You got only 30 out of 100.’ Kala laughed aloud seeing my discomfiture. The whole class looked at me contemptuously. I saw my write was hit with green pencil and disfigured beyond recognition.
The summer had gone and the kids too. My house now falls back to its usual, intriguing silence and somnolence. Though every room remains clean and clutter free, I find sort emptiness and void surrounds them. Kala and I are now waiting for another summer … longing to have the kids in our midst. For, we know only where children gather is there a real chance of fun.