Piklu was restless. His sister was still perfecting her dance moves as the dance teacher was not letting her go. Piklu is five-year-old now. Old enough to take his seven-year-old sister to the dance school. His sister is a complete idiot. She needs somebody to accompany her to the dance school. Since Piklu cannot come of his own, they think, he had to stay with her till the class is over.
Generally mother goes with her. But she is sick today. Buddha Kaku is regularly visiting her and changing prescriptions. He said if the fever doesn’t come down within this evening mother should be shifted to hospital.
That’s a good news. Nobody will force him to go to the school then. Piklu wished she stays in the hospital for the next week. He can play football for the whole day. Father is never a problem. He never forced him to study. Actually, father is a fun to hang around with. He is keener on showing how to ball or how to hold the bat. He regularly enquires about how many goals Piklu scored or how many runs he secured. Father is a darling. Mother is bad.
What if mother never returns from hospital? That would be fun! Piklu was deep in his thought. Suddenly he realized that would be actually very bad. He cannot live without his mother. Mother beats his skin out, boxes his ears, scolds him, controls his playing time with a strict hand. But…
And that’s a big but. Piklu knows it is his mother who loves him the most. More than his father. Whenever mother hugs him, he feels such warmth, so much comfort in her love. While sleeping, he NEEDs his mother. If maa is not around, he cannot sleep. All kind of thoughts come in. Like how to kick Hari in the school, or tensions like Sweta stealing his tiffin and finishing the whole cake without leaving a crump. Or Himangshu snatching his new pencil. Worst still, his sister ordering him to fetch clothes from the terrace.
While sleeping, his mother comes and touches his forehead. A reassuring smell engulfs Piklu’s body and mind, he instantly loses his consciousness and fall in deep slumber. All nice things are waiting for him there. Like mother’s pan cakes, a tricycle of his dream. His best friend Khudi almost always accompanies him there. All day long they pelt stones at the tamarind tree with their catapults. And there is no Shukli to chase them. At a distance, it is always Durga puja. You can hear the sweet drum beats from a distance. Kids are playing with pistols there. Two parties vying for the blood of each other in a war for supremacy. Fully equipped with crackers. And father is standing there with all kinds of toys, smiling and boxing his sister’s ear in one hand.
And in a corner Pamela didi is sitting. Watching them play. She looks beautiful then ever. And she is of course most impressed with Piklu’s exemplary courage.
Only mother can transfer him to this wonderland. Just one touch is enough. Piklu can fall asleep by taking mother’s fingers in his palm. It’s magic.
He looked at the sky, the cloud there looked like a great swan. He prayed to the swan to go and tell God to heal her mother soon. He doesn’t want his mother to leave him. If they want, they can take his sister and her dance teacher to the hospital.
Soon he realized his lips were trembling. Eyes were getting wet. He wanted to rush to his mother. He will go and hug her tight. He will not let anybody to take her to hospital. He had no idea what a hospital is. Must be a very foul place where they punish people for not letting kids play all the time. He is ready to be a good boy. He is ready to quit playing altogether. He is ready to go to school regularly. He will not fight with other kids ever. He will not bug his mother ever. He will be a good boy. But oh God don’t take my mother to the hospital.
He was praying fervently till the swan changed shape and became a cat. Piklu was now shaking, he couldn’t control the tears. He loves his mother. Mother is the dearest of all he ever knew. There is nobody who can replace Maa. He saw his sister coming.
“Piklu, why are you crying?” she was tensed. He knew, his sister may be foul but she also loves him very much. She is so protective of him in the school. Other kids don’t mess with him because of his sister. She also should not be sent to hospital.
“Didi are they going to take Maa to the hospital?” Piklu knew his didi has all the answers in the world. She never fails him. She knows which kite is better to fly and which bat is the best for cricket. She also knows how to make beautiful aeroplanes that floats and gently lands even when there is no air around.
“Don’t cry Piklu,” didi hugs him. Piklu spotted some hints of tears in her eyes too.
--No tell me, are they going to take mother to the hospital, tell me…tell me.
“I don’t know…I really don’t know.”
At that time if you were passing down the road you could have spotted two kids crying frantically hugging each other. Both trying to console each other, but had no clue how. You could see the tears were real. More precious and shiny then pearls. Priceless.
If you were a little eccentric to care about nonsense trivial things like a cloud, you could have seen a giant cat in the sky was slowly slowly melting down. If you could have waited there for a few more minutes you could have seen it was drizzling.