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     Volume 5 Issue 105 | July 28, 2006 |

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Common Cold

A Mid-Monsoon Night's Dream

Neeraj Sinha

Dear Daddy,
Don't get startled by this letter. We are both fast asleep and dreaming. How else do you think your 5-year-old is writing full sentences? Unless you have forgotten, I'm still in KG 'A' and it will be quite a while before I start writing properly like mamma and you. But tell me dad, would you have remembered the section (in school) I am in, had I not told you…? Sorry papa, but I sometimes wonder if these things matter to you. Remember the big fight you and mamma had last New Year eve when you forgot the date when you and Mamma had got married. Really Dad, how can you be so forgetful?

Each time you get angry with me for missing out a line here or a word there in one of the many rhymes we are taught at school, I feel like asking if you remember all the important things you ought to. It may not seem to you, but the 'section' I am in at school, is a very important part of my identity. Which reminds me, can you recall my section now dad? I have told you several times before and I told you yet again now, but can you recollect? See…, you don't remember. For the last time dad, I'm in KG 'A'. A for Apple, dad. Ok…?

Don't be angry with me dad, but there are several things I always wanted to talk about but never had the courage to. Can I please do so now dad…? Let me begin by saying that I loved that story you read out to me last night of the tortoise, triumphing over the fast paced hare who in his arrogance overslept during their race. I was equally thrilled when you told me the tale of this young prince from a far away kingdom who married a poor destitute girl because she was truthful and sincere in all she did. If all this is true dad, will Molly Didi, who does our clothes and kitchen work at home, get chosen by a prince from some faraway kingdom sometime soon? Also, if truth is critical, next time you are home and someone from office calls, will you allow me to tell them you are home, and not out to the market or at the Doctor's like you usually make me say…?

I feel I am blessed to have been born in this household dad. Whenever we travel from home to our friends' or school or the market, despite your best efforts to divert my attention papa, I invariably see clusters of poor children, some my size, some even smaller, outside. They look in such a sorry state, tattered clothes, unkempt hair and often, runny noses. I have noticed you trying to shoo them away whenever they knock on our car window gets too loud or persistent. I sometimes get nightmares dad where I see myself dressed like them, peering inside a huge car like ours and though I keep waving at you from the outside, shouting all the while that it's me, your sweetheart, the traffic light changes colour and off you go, leaving me bathed in dust and squalor.

Funny thing about dreams dad, you can't give me 'time out', even if you feel offended. Not like real life where I can be marched off into a corner whenever my behaviour deviates from the standards set by mom and you. No, I don't dispute your right to award me punishments when I trespass norms of decency. And I agree I am often guilty. What I detest, however, are occasions when I am taken away without being given a chance to prove the rationale behind my seemingly offensive acts. I also don't like it when both mom and you enter into an unwritten contest with Mehul's parents whenever they are around in your respective bid to prove that your children are better than theirs. Mehul and I are happy playing with our 'Kitchen set'; why drag us into these adult games dad?

Let me tell you a secret today. When the other day Mamma caught me with her eyebrow pencil in my mouth, I wasn't trying to darken my lips…! You see, I like the way you carry your cigarette stick in your mouth. I was only trying to balance the pencil like your cigarettes. Simple make-believe papa, if you know what I mean…!

You know Papa, though you may feel otherwise from whatever I have just said, I really do like you. Someday I would also want to be like you. Which is why I observe everything you do, so closely. Without your realising it, I follow every step you take and when no one is looking I try even to imitate your mannerisms and the way you speak.

It's getting close to dawn now and it will soon be time for us to get up. Are you still with me papa? There…, can you hear the phone ring in the distance? I know this is a call from your office 'cause when they called up last night, Mamma told them you were out and would return only very late. They had said they would call up in the morning.

Shall I pick up the phone dad, and tell them you are home? Or would you rather I said you were out jogging and had left your mobile phone behind…?


Dreams allow you….dont be angry with me dad….

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