‘Dad! What is repair cushions?’ Sharath’s six year old son Mihir had a puzzled look on his face.
‘What cushions?’ Sharath was busy working on a costing spreadsheet and didn’t pay much attention to his son.
‘Repair cushions, Dad! Anita told me about it.’ Anita was Mihir’s twelve year old elder sister who, like any twelve year old with a six year old brother, thought she was too cool for him.
‘Mihir, did you damage any of the cushions? Oh God! You and Anita had a fight and you damaged the cushions, right? Your Mom will kill me. She loves those damn cushions!’
‘Dad, what is damn?’
‘You forget that word, right now, Mihir!’ Sharath whirled around, ‘Damn, can’t even cuss with an over-attentive kid around!’
‘What is cuss? And you never told me about damn!’
‘Mihir, those are bad, bad words you should never ever say, ok?’
‘But you are saying it, Dad!’
‘I’m a grown up! I can say them.’
‘But they are bad, bad words. I’m telling Mom!’
Sharath knew what was coming next. An inextricable web of blackmail was being spun around him by his NERF-toting son.
‘Alright! What will it take for you to keep shush?’
‘Two Transforming Transformers, Big Transformers sticker book and two damn cones of ice-cream.’ Sharath glared at his smug looking son and sighed, ‘You win! But don’t say that word, ever! Ok?’
An hour of vexing toy shopping later, Sharath pulled his car over at the ice-cream shop. Mihir was annoyed that Sharath had bought him only one Transformer toy.
‘C’mon, Mihir! Let’s get those ice-creams.’
Mihir didn’t move from his seat. He was clutching his toy with a big pout on his lips.
‘Mihir, I don’t have all day! I have some urgent work to attend to once we reach home.’
There was no response.
‘Mihir, why are you pouting? I did get the toy for you, right?’
‘Only one! I wanted two!’ He showed the index fingers on both hands.
‘The bloody shop had only one. What do you want me to do?’
‘That shop uncle said he can bring one more from his other shop. He said he had Bumblebee!’
‘Mihir, It would take him two hours. I don’t have that much time. Now shall we get those ice-creams?’
‘I don’t want bluddy ice-cream!’
‘Bloody? Where did you learn that word?’
‘You just said bluddy, Dad!’
‘Ah crap! This day just keeps getting better!’
Sharath gave up and banged the door shut. He went to the shop and bought two ice-cream cones and shoved it into Mihir’s hands. He was irritated and wanted release. He opened the glove compartment and relieved a cigarette from his hidden stash and lit it.
Mihir knocked the window from inside.
‘Dad, you are choo-choo’ing! Mom said you should never choo-choo again.’
‘Yeah! She did! But this will be our little secret, Ok?’
‘Only if you get me Bumblebee!’
‘You know what, no more deal with you. I feel I’m spoiling you. No more unnecessary toys for you.’
Sharath drove home in a heightened state of exasperation. He didn’t say a word to Mihir and simply closed the door to his study. He had instructed Anita to take care of Mihir and had sternly ruled out her protests.
His wife, Anya, came home to a silent house with three sullen individuals. She sighed and plopped down on the sofa.
‘Why is the house so silent? Anita, did you and Mihir have a fight?’
‘No, Mom! Mihir was playing with his new toy and I was busy with homework.’
‘Weren’t you planning to go to your friend Nikki’s house?’
Anita closed her book with a huff, ‘Yes, but dad told me strictly to stay at home and babysit Mihir.’
‘I’m not a baby!’
‘You are a baby, playing with silly toys.’
‘You play with Barbies!’
‘No, I don’t!’
‘Enough,’ Anya closed her eyes. ‘I left your dad in charge of the house for few hours and it’s almost the onset of the third world war! Where is daddy anyway?’
Sharath came out, ‘Anya, these kids are impossible. I have new found respect for you and your patience. Please don’t leave me alone with them.’
Mihir came running from Anita’s room, ‘See, her Barbie!’
His sister snatched the doll from his hands, ‘Don’t touch my stuff with your dirty hands. You are a pig!’
‘You are a damn pig bluddy!’
Time froze! Anya looked at Mihir sternly, ‘Where did you learn those words?’
Sharath shot a desperate look at his son. Mihir smiled, ‘From dad! He bought me new Transformers and ice-creams for not saying it.’
‘I wanted two Transformers, but dad bought me only one. So I said those words. Dad was angry at me and then he went and did choo-choo’ing.’
Anya fixed Sharath with a glare, ‘You smoked?’
‘You promised you wouldn’t!’
‘Yes, but Mihir was being a major pain in the…’
‘I wouldn’t complete it if I were you, Sharath.’
‘Look, I have had a bloody long day. Give me a bloody break, will you?’
Mihir started jumping around, ‘Bluddy! Bluddy!’
‘Sharath, you smoked. Well, you’ll sleep on the couch tonight.’ Anya turned to her son, ‘Mihir darling! Do you want to sleep on the couch instead of your bed?’
‘Then, will you say those words again?’
‘Anya, are you sure that I have to sleep on the couch?’
‘Yes! I told you there’d be repercussions!’
Mihir shouted, ‘Repair cushions!’
Anya smiled, ‘Yup! Your dad can repair all the cushions he wants tonight.’
Sharath groaned. He didn’t dare mutter the words that came bubbling from inside.