“Dad, she’s gone completely insane,” I tell him over the phone. “She won’t let me go to the dance and is spending loads on teleshopping thalis to save the world.”
After a prompt rebuke, “Beta, how many times have I told you not to swear,” he suggests riding the wave till Sunday, when he returns. She has even made him change his flight date from Saturday to Sunday, as nothing, absolutely nothing, is to be done on that day. But, of course, pray.
“By then the world would be safe again,” he adds, garbling words. Chap-chap-chap.
“Are you having food, like proper food?” I ask him accusingly. “That doesn’t come out of a tin can or a wrapper?”
He hurriedly swallows down whatever he is having and ignores this.
“Wait till Sunday,” he reiterates. “And you can go anywhere you like after that. If the world doesn’t get destroyed, that is.” He half sighs, half chuckles.”You know how it is, Rinku.” I can hear him rubbing his forehead, twirling the spoon. Or chopsticks, if he’s having Chinese. Which seems more likely, since he is in China. “When she gets this way, there is no stopping your mom. But yes, I am blocking her credit card. For sure. Otherwise the world may end up being saved, but we’ll be out on the streets begging for alms.”
I nod in agreement, though not completely satisfied. It doesn’t solve my final problem, does it? The world will survive one way or another. But how do I attend the dance?
So I lie.
“Dad,” I say. “I think Sunny is sick. He is coming down with something. Has rashes all over. And is complaining of joint pain. And headache. He didn’t even stay back for practice today. By the way, he’s got in to the school team.”
Dad yelps. “I knew it.” Then remembers. “Where’s he now? Resting, I hope. Why didn’t you tell me before? Where’s your mom? Is she looking after him? Did she take him to the doctor?”
“No, yes. Kind of. We went to the school doctor.” Yet another lie. But it’s a white lie, not a bad one. “He gave him some antibiotic and asked us to stay vigilant.” I lay special emphasis on the last word. It’s something that the school doctor would say. Besides, preposterous, ambiguous, and ridiculous. He is quite old and learned. Grey hair, Cambridge certificate on the back wall. “In case he got worse.”
Dad’s “what” is practically a scream.
He was going to return three days from now. Or two, if it hadn’t been for the baba. Now he’ll be home earlier, nothing’s wrong with that.
But what when he sees Sunny happy as a beach ball, bouncing about? Not sulking in bed? Raving and feverish? I’ll tell him he recovered — miraculously. No, that won’t do. Mom will credit that baba of hers for this as well. No, no, we can’t have that. What if Dad believes her and says no to me, too? Then all this would be for nothing.
I guess I will have to take the little brat into confidence. Wonder what that’ll cost me. A month’s worth of pocket money? A year’s?
“I’ll catch the next flight back,” Dad says breathlessly. He seems to be rushing out of the restaurant or wherever he is. Mumbling apologies on the way. “Don’t you worry. Just hang tight.”
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