24 January 2010

The long wait

I am telling you for the last time
In my last article, I had mentioned that my wife is pregnant. Many readers wrote me back asking whether it is a fact or a work of fiction. Apparently, they thought I would joke about such serious stuff. People no more believe my articles. I don’t blame them. Sometimes I get a bit carried away and use literary license generously. Of late it has extended to such a derogatory state that I no more know what is real and what is false. I have fallen victim to my own imagination!
People read my memoir like articles and wonder, how much is real? Some skeptics question: Why so many curious things happen only in his life? I am breaking the fourth-wall here to warn my readers; my articles are meant only for entertainment, nothing else; anyone seeking enlightenment or such noble virtues is bound for great disappointment.
For the records, I am telling you for the last time, my wife is really pregnant. This is no work of imagination!
This pregnancy was unplanned, hence unexpected. My family members, after years of relentless pestering, for Good News, had finally abandoned the futile mission. My wife was taking a break from getting pregnant. Sometime back, while cleaning the basement, she found a few un-used pregnancy test strips. Instead of trashing them, she thought, Why not use them; that’s when she found out, for her horror and subsequent delight that she was pregnant.
The strips tell you instantly whether you are pregnant or not. This is amazing. You don’t have to go to the hospital or stand in the long queues. You can find out instantly at home! Things were different during my Mom’s time; she didn’t realize she was pregnant for almost 3 months. I was a quiet person even before I was born!
A question for the doctor
Once the pregnancy strip indicated positive, we immediately rushed to a gynecologist. In the US, meeting a doctor is like meeting the Pope. You can not pay visit on your whim. Twenty people, sometime more, who are not doctors, interrogate you, in different small rooms, before you actually see the doctor. More or less they ask the same questions, I think they check notes sometime later-Or make sure you have proper insurance.
Finally, you get to see the doctor for a few minutes——like the eclipse!. Most of the time he tells you the things you already know!
The Gynecologist did an Ultrasound on my wife. “I don’t see anything,” he said.
“The pregnancy strip showed positive!” my wife said.
“This could be a False-positive,” he suggested.
“False-positive is a result that is erroneously positive when a-”
“I know the definition!” cried my wife.
“Oh! Nevertheless, this is too early,” said the doctor.
“What do you mean by too early?”
“You probably had sex yesterday!”
Shocked! I exchanged looks with my wife: How did he know?
There was nothing else to do. We still had some time.
“Do you have any questions?” asked the doctor.
Since this is our first child, I had around 100 questions. But the time was short; I mentally sorted the top 10 questions.
The first among them——what precautions a pregnant woman with Thyroid deficiency should observe, if she shows the symptoms of Gestational diabetes? The rest 9 questions were equally complex, beyond the reach of any novice doctor. I have done so much research on pregnancy I am now a mini-doctor myself.
But before I opened my mouth, my wife shushed me. “Don’t ask stupid questions,” she said, “I am pregnant. I know what to ask.”
I sighed. She composed herself. “Doctor,” she started, “Supposing I am pregnant, which is a strong possibility, though Ultrasound indicates otherwise, Is it advisable for a pregnant woman or In other words can I safely assume-”
At this point I gave her a small nudge. “Just ask the question,” I said.
Once again, she composed: “Doctor, now that I know I am pregnant or at least let’s assume for the sake of argument-”
I leant over and muttered: “Ask the damn question!”
Even the doctor got impatient, “Ma’am, what is your question?” he said.
“Now that I am pregnant, Can I eat pizza?”
That’s what she asked. That was her priority question. Can you believe that? You probably think I made that up. No sir! This really happened. You are always welcome to check that with my wife.
A surprise for Grandma
Becoming a dad was one of the two long pending tasks on my to-do list. The other one was to read - War and Peace. This colossal book was lying on my desk for ages. Intimidated by its size, I had postponed reading it indefinitely——till I got more relaxed time somewhere in future.
So when my wife announced she was pregnant, immediately I realized that I am going to be busy for coming 2-3 years, without thinking I said: “I want to finish, War and Peace before the kid arrives.” That’s what I said. Most husbands say many romantic things on these occasions. But I could not come up with a better line. In fact, that’s the same thing my Dad had told Mom, when she had announced her pregnancy. However he could not finish the book.
When I told Mom, that I am going to have a child, first thing she said: “Now don’t write a stupid article on it!”
“What?” I asked.
“Don’t announce to the whole world.”
This made me mad.
“How long you are going to control me?” I retorted, “I am going to be a Father soon.”
“This is your wife talking!” she said, “You never had such courage.”
Discouraged by Mom’s warning, I thought of keeping my Good News a secret. For a while I kept quiet. However, Grandma was an exception - she is nearing 90. And, almost since my puberty, she has pestered me about my Good News.
“Grandma, I have a secret to reveal,” I telephoned her.
“Did you find out who assassinated Kennedy?”
“No. No. This is not that kind of-”
“NASA: Fake moon launch?”
“Grandma listen to me, this is different.”
“What is it then?”
“I am going to become a Dad!”
“Is that your big secret?”
“Are you not happy?”
“I am very happy indeed. I am going to tell the whole world,” She screamed.
“Don’t tell anyone please.”
“Why not?”
“This is not the right time,” I said.
“Oh! Come of it-“
“Grandma, I beseech you!”
“Beseech? Did you say beseech? What kind of a word is that?”
“Grandma, don’t forget I am a writer. I need to use uncommon words. Nevertheless don’t tell a soul.”
“I won’t,” she promised, “Not even to your Grandpa!”
Grandpa died last year. But she thinks he is alive. She is losing her marbles.
Informing Grandma was a mistake; she broke the promise almost instantly, revealed the secret to everyone, including unconcerned pedestrians. She had waited such a long time, she went berserk. “My grandson is going to be a Dad!” She told everyone, also cautioned the listener, “Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.” I know this because a moron called me and said: “Don’t tell anyone. Your wife is pregnant!”
What is in a Name?
Parents struggle a lot to find exotic names for their children. Every parent wants the child name to be unique and super-creative. Hence often you come across children with names like: Tungsten, Andromeda, Hydra, Paramecium or rarely an immensely un-creative name like - Ravi Lobo. I have wondered many a sleepless nights, about, what kinds of people keep their child’s name as Ravi Lobo.
Finally, after pestering Mom a lot, I found out the truth. It seems nobody showed any interest in naming me. On the day before christening, Mom announced at the breakfast table, to a bunch of indifferent family members: “If you guys don’t come up with a decent name for my son, I am going to randomly choose any stupid name, say, Ravi Lobo.” And, well...
People stare at me when I announce my name.
“Pardon me?” they say, just to make sure they heard the right thing.
“You must be an outsider!” Mangloreans have concluded.
“Are you Gay?” a few impolite people have asked.
Once I repeat my name, a thin smile appears on their lips. They think there is something fishy. They think I am a product of inter-religion or inter-Galactic marriage - or some such weird stuff. In fact all these things are false. Ours is a great family. All straight marriages, many priests and several nuns, children return home by 7pm, daily prayers twice - an ideal family. In fact I am the first person in the family, who went against it, to marry the girl I liked. My decision had created a great chaos in the ultra-religious super-ideal family.
“You are the anth-kuris in our family [sic],” some oldies had declared. Those were the exact words.
This all happened a long time back. Since then, I have cut my long hair, no ear rings, I no more fancy tattooing and piercing, no street drugs, no syringes. I am a different person now. I oil and comb my hair daily, tuck-in my shirt, brush daily twice, open doors for old ladies, and wave at school buses. I am a resurrected person.
Mom said in her last call: “I am going to find a wonderful name for your child-”
I got alarmed.
“Now, Wait a minute,” I stopped her, “You screwed up my name; Almost made me a psychopath. After 30 years you want to repeat the same thing.” Here I took a pause for the effect before continuing, “Let me tell you Mom, I won’t, I repeat, I won’t allow you to do the same thing to my child!”
That shocked her. “Ok, do as you like, don’t listen to me, listen to your wife.” She hung the phone.
Advanced planning
One time, I was traveling in a train; a couple was sitting right across. I could not help listening to the following conversation.
“I think IIM is the best option,” said the man.
“Or probably GMAT or GRE followed by MS,” said the woman.
“Not MS, it is very common nowadays,” said the man.
“How about civil services?”
“That’s a good suggestion. But no software——Too common——Mushrooms! Remember the boy who had a head injury, the one who was talking funny; we thought he would become a vegetable?”
“What about him?”
“He is a software engineer now. Too low a goal to achieve.”
“Let’s keep a couple of options open: Sports and Art. If the child shows talent in painting or music we should encourage that.”
At this point I intervened.
“Pardon my intrusion,” I said, “I could not help but listen to your planning for the child’s future. I am baffled by such extensive planning. You guys are truly very responsible parents. Where is your child? I would like to tell him or her, what a wonderful God given gift, to have such amazing parents.”
The couple looked a bit lost.
“Are you joking?” said the woman.
“Ma’am, did I say something wrong?”
“We don’t have a child, yet,” said the woman, “We are newly married, on our honeymoon!”
They were planning about a child not yet conceived! Modern parents do such laborious planning. Things were different during my time.
After my 12th, I didn’t know what to do. My parents had not done any planning! In fact, they were a kind of amused by the very fact that I did clear the finals. I was a bit lost. I spent most of my time around Grandma, who narrated great imaginary stories. (This influenced me, in later years, to become a story teller). One of those days, I remember clearly, I was in the kitchen, eating the third plate of idli, which grandma had specially made for me.
“Grandma, Idlis have come very good,” I said.
“My dear gundu-Grandson, one more plate is coming up,” said grandma, “keep some space in your abysmal tummy.”
“You are a gem Grandma! Gem-gem-gem-gem,” I cooed.
Mom made a sudden unexpected entry. She was edgy for some reason.
“Don’t finish the whole stuff,” she cried, “there are other people in this house!”
“Mom, you don’t have to be sarcastic,” I said.
“Eating and sleeping whole day! Have you thought anything about future?”
“I am not an astrologer,” I said. And immediately realized that was a big mistake. Mom raised her hand, and a sharp blow was on its way; grandma stopped her.
“Don’t hit the child,” she warned, “He may become a writer someday and write about the whole thing.”
This was no threat for Mom.
She looked at me, “You have two options,” she concluded. “Either become an engineer or help Grandma in the kitchen!”
“I will think about it,” I said.
“No thinking. You have already wasted a lot of time. Tell me right now: what do you want?”
Sheepishly I muttered: “I will help Grandma in the kitchen.”
“That’s my boy,” Grandma applauded.
My Mom - she was standing in the far corner, on hearing my choice, covered the distance between us with a lightening speed, grabbed me by the collar, tried to air-lift me, but failed miserably because of my extra weight.
“Listen to me carefully,” she said slowly but sternly, “I am tired of a family full of men helping in the kitchen. This is not what I expected when I married into this family. Now you listen to me, this is time, I saw some real money!”
I ran out of the kitchen, called 911 from the study. This happened long back, at a time when the telephone exchanges were manual; a lady took my call at the exchange.
“My mother is harassing me,” I narrated the whole thing. She patiently listened my story, “I am sorry, dear abused boy,” she said, “You can not call 911 in this country. This is not America!”
Crestfallen, I went to grandpa for solace.
“What?” he said.
“Grandpa, I am done. I am going to be an engineer.”
“Is it?”
“Yes! Mom has decided——sealed my fate. I am going to be the first engineer in our family.”
He gave a long weary look. “Of all the intelligent promising young men of this family, you got to be the first engineer. This is nothing short of a miracle,” he said. “God please take me, why are you waiting, what else you want these old eyes to witness?”
The great expectations
My Father is a simple man, so is Mom. But they always expected me to be a scientist. I had reasoned with Mom, thousand times, “How can I become a scientist, when You and Dad are not scientists.”
Mom had coolly replied, every single time, “Einstein’s parents were not scientists!”
The only thing I have invented or going to invent is - my child. (Even there, I am going to be a co-inventor! I am incapable of inventing anything on my own.)
My parents had high expectations on me. My hand writing was pathetically illegible; hence they concluded I would become a doctor. However, some skeptics predicted the future of a bus-conductor, which was a high possibility.
As a young man, I had an uncanny talent for the bus routes. Given any two places, I could easily come up with the shortest, fastest, easiest, toll-free bus route. I also had a photographic memory for the bus time table. In the non-Google era, this was a promising art. However, my parents were mortified by my talent. The notion of their child becoming a bus conductor, therefore an underachiever——in their view——, in a family full of underachievers, scared the hell out of them!
I am a living example of what happens to children with high expectations. I don’t want my child to go through the same hell. Hence, I don’t have any expectations from my child——zero expectations! I don’t want my child to go to the Moon or climb Mount Everest. I don’t want my child to do 4 digit math mentally; if it learns to use a calculator, I am fine with that! However, deep in my heart, If I have the option of expecting one thing from my child, I want him or her to read­——War and Peace.
The long wait
I grew up around a lot of boys. Hence, I was always surrounded with toy machine guns, airplanes, machinery, gadgets, suicide bombs——in short a lot of bang bang. As a literary kid, I was tired of fist fights, dissecting cockroaches, amputating frogs, brainless banter, and meaningless bow and arrow games. I actually want a person in my life with some sense. Did I tell you, that I am going to have a daughter? Yep, I kept the best part for the end.
Now that I am going to have a daughter, I hope she will bring some sort of order in my otherwise chaotic life. I have composed a prayer for God, which goes something like this: “Dear God, Now that you have given me a daughter, please make sure that she doesn’t come across a person like me in her teen years.” It’s a complex prayer. But I am sure God will understand.
Pregnancy is a great challenge. Before the pregnancy, I had thought of going for 3 kids——with or without the consent from the government. But now, after living with a pregnant woman for 24/7, I don’t have any plans for another kid for the coming 200 years.
My wife has become a totally different person. It’s like a resurrection for her. I have often wondered whether she is the same person I married. Often she is exhausted and tired. The present she is going to get at the end of this pregnancy is what keeps her going. You can not understand this joy, unless you are a woman.
As for me, for once, I am out of words. This is a big thing in my otherwise uneventful, black and white life. I am content though, and could not ask more from life. For now, I am just waiting. It’s a long wait.

Note: If you liked this memoir, you might like the others in the series as well. Click Here.  
Note: The article was published at Daiji prior to this blog.

17 January 2010

A gift from Santa

Gimpy lost the running race by a large margin. He was nowhere near the leading trio. In fact nobody was expecting him to win - except his mom. His mom, Rose, watched him loosing the race with a dejected look, from the stands.

On the way back, in the car, she gave a scolding to Gimpy; which she regretted later. Once inside the house, Rose rushed straight to the bedroom.

“Coffee?” asked her husband from the kitchen; he was enjoying his Christmas holidays, experimenting in the kitchen.
“Make it strong, I have a headache,” Rose yelled from the bedroom. Joe sensed the tension between the mother and the son, and guessed the reason too.
Gimpy threw his school bag on the sofa and climbed the high-chair in the kitchen.
“Milk?” asked his Dad.
“I want a Coke!” gimpy retorted, his eyes red and swollen.
Normally, Joe won’t allow a Coke to his son, but now he realized any form of negation would result in a burst.
He took a can from the refrigerator, “don’t tell your mom,” warned his son.
“Okay,” Gimpy grabbed the can, started licking the frost.
“Don’t” Joe warned.
“I am not going to talk to Mom.”
“Never ever never”
“I am serious this time.”
“I hear you.”
“No matter what”
“She hates me!”
“Oh! Gimpy,” Joe sighed, “All moms are strict, mine was stricter. But in the end, they all mean only the best for their children.”
“My mom is different!” Gimpy retorted.
“No. She is not.”
“You always take her side.”
“No, I always take your side.” He twisted Gimpy’s cheek, lightly.
“Dad, I lost the race.”
“Is it?” Joe had guessed it.
“Everyone can not win.”
“Someone has to lose.”
“I agree.”
“People who lose, give meaning to the victory of the winners.”
Joe stopped. He stared at his son; and wondered from where the boy might have got that piece of intelligence.
“Go and play, I need to check your Mom.”
“I will play with Rex.”
Rex was neighbor’s new puppy. Gimpy had developed a liking for it.

Rose was on the bed, lying on her stomach. Joe gave a light tap on her shoulder.
“Coffee,” he said.
“Thank you,” she got up, sat at the edge of the bed, took the mug, “He doesn’t have the killing instinct.”
“Your son,” she said.
“You mean our son.”
“No he is your son. He doesn’t have a single quality of me.”
“Are you upset, because he lost the race?”
“No. I am upset because he didn’t want to win the race.”
“How do you know?”
“He doesn’t have the focus. He was waving at me, while running.”
“He is just a child.”
“He doesn’t have any talent.”
“May be he is just a regular kid.”
“I wish he had Ria’s gift.”
“Com’on now”
“Ria plays chess at the national level. She is younger than Gimpy. Mrs. Raman is so proud. You should see the look on her face; whenever, she talks about her daughter.”
This line of talk was not new to Joe. “Got a call from the old-age home.” he said - just to change the topic.
“What now?”
“Your Dad had a fight with someone.”
“I don’t know what to do with him.”
“Why don’t we get him here?”
“Never,” she said sternly, “He deservers wherever he is. I am treating him as he had treated me: tit-for-tat.”

Joe had heard that before. It was a losing battle. Roses’ father – since his wife’s death - was in the old-age home. His sons were abroad: settled. Years ago he was a bit biased towards his sons, and didn’t treat Rose equally as the boys. The old man has realized his mistake, of late. However, Rose has not forgotten the past. Gimpy adores the old man. But that is not a consolation for Rose.

Gimpy offered half of his Coke to Rex. Mrs. Raman, neighbor and Rexs’ owner, was reading a women’s magazine, sitting on the rocking chair. She amusingly watched the puppy and Gimpy, above her reading glasses. To her right, on the other side of the window, inside the study room, Ria was practicing chess. It was a daily, mandatory practice. Mrs. Raman had an eye on her too. The fact that, it was Gimpy who was playing with the dog and not her daughter made Mrs. Raman content.

“Gimpy, come home,” Rose called from the gate.
Gimpy didn’t reply.
“Rose, come here,” Mrs. Raman called out.
“Hello Lakshmi,” Rose wanted to say, but every one called her Mrs. Raman. “Hello Mrs. Raman.”
“Rose, do you fancy fresh Murukulu?”
“No. Thanks”
“O! Dieting, is it?” Mrs. Raman measured Rose from top to bottom, “You look sexy!” she said.
“Thank you.”
“Are you wearing Wonder-bra?” Mrs. Raman giggled. She was known in her circle, for making such remarks. Rose ignored the question.
“Where is Ria?”
“She is inside, practicing - every day 3 hours. She will become a GM in 2 years.”
“That is so nice,” Rose said passively.
“Yes. It is wonderful to have a gifted child. She beats Mr. Raman blindfold! Though, I have warned her not to do that. It puts a lot of pressure on her young mind. Sometime I wish, she were not such talented, but a regular kid like Gimpy. She is missing a regular childhood!”

Rose let the comment pass. Gimpy with the Coke got her attention. That alerted her.
“Did you give him Coke?” she asked Mrs. Raman.
“No. He came with it. I wondered though. I won’t allow a Coke to Ria; may not be good for her brain cells.”
Rose ran to Gimpy and grabbed the can, “Who gave you this?”
“Dad,” Gimpy said sheepishly.
She dragged him with his elbow, on the way, stopped at the window, knocked on the glass pane, “Ria, how are you?”
“Fine aunty,” Ria said.
“Teach some of your chess tricks to Gimpy.”
“He doesn’t know how to play.”
“I know chess,” said Gimpy, “But I don’t want to win.” Rose sighed.
“I am going to get a big kite,” Gimpy said.
“Call me when you fly it,” said Ria.
“Okay,” said Gimpy.
“Bye now,” Rose said and dragged Gimpy along.
Gimpy grabbed a fistful of Murukulu from Mrs. Raman’s plate. Rose made him put half of them back to the plate.
“Bye Mrs. Raman,” Rose said. Mrs. Raman said bye and amusingly watched the departing mother and son.

On the way, Gimpy let himself free from Rose and ran inside the house.
“Gimpy start the shower, I will see you in a minute,” Rose shouted behind his back.
Inside Gimpy saw his dad on the sofa.
“She wants to kill me.”
“Who?” Joe asked eagerly.
“Mom,” With that he ran inside the bathroom and latched it from inside.
“Where is he?” Rose followed closely.
Joe pointed to the bathroom. She found it was locked.
“Gimpyyyyyyyyyy! Gimpy open the door.”
“Joe. Joe, come here?”
“What happened?”
“He has locked himself inside.”
“He will be fine. He has done that before.”
She started taking rounds outside the bathroom.
“Are you sure, he will be fine?”
She sat on the floor, against the wall; and started biting the nails unconsciously.
“Why did you give him a Coke?”
“How many times-“
“Gimpy open the door!”
Gimpy didn’t reply.
“Did you find what he wants for Christmas?”
“Not yet,” he said.

Gimpy never told his parents what he wanted for Christmas. He told only Santa. Every year it was an ordeal for the husband and wife to find out what Gimpy wanted; and on top of that they had to make it look like as if the gift was really from Santa.

“I know what will please him,” Rose said.
“I bought a guitar for from. He will like it. Even if he shows a little bit of talent, I will make him a pro.”
“I think we should give him some time.”
“He had enough time.”
Gimpy came out of the bathroom drenched, with a towel wrapped, gave an accomplished look to Dad, ignored Rose and went straight to his room.

Of late, Rose had noticed her son’s detachment. She was expecting it in his teen years. He was becoming difficult day by day. On the other hand, he had a strong bond with his Dad. He would tell his Dad things which he won’t tell Rose. She coveted that kind of love. Not getting that created a void in her.

On the dinner table, Gimpy was circling the food with the spoon; and stopped only after realizing his Mom was watching.
“I don’t like it,” he said.
She sighed. She didn’t want to scold him again.
“Eat ten spoons,” she begged.
“I will eat five.”
“Fine,” she resigned.
“What did you ask Santa?” she tried to cheer him.
“I know what you asked.”
“No. You don’t”
“Yes. I know.”
“Tell me?”
“Hm, let me guess,” she acted like thinking, then as if it suddenly came to her mind, she said: “A musical instrument?”

Gimpy waited. He didn’t like Mom’s trick.
“I don’t need a guitar,” he said, pushed the plate away, and ran inside.
“Did you tell him that?” she asked Joe.
“No. He must have seen it.”
They finished the dinner in silence.

On the Christmas Eve, they attended the early mass. Father and son had erected a six-foot Christmas tree. Joe had still not figured out what his son wanted for Christmas.

In the study room, Rose was checking Gimpy’s home-work. The homework question got her attention: The most important 5 things in your life – the teacher had asked.

She saw Gimpy’s answer.
1. Dad, Dad and Dad
2. Grandpa
3. Ria
4. Rex
5. Father John

She stared the list for a long time. Her eyes blurred. Joe came to the study, searching something. “Anything wrong?” he asked. She handed him the book. He read the list, but couldn’t make out anything.

“My name is not in the list,” she said. “Even the dog has made it to the top.”
“He is just a child; he is not serious.”
“Oh yeh? He is serious enough to put you on the top!”
Joe didn’t say anything.
“Why should I be the bad person?” Rose continued, “You never raise your voice to him: A saint in his eyes. Are we playing good-cop, bad-cop here?”
Joe sighed: “Now, com’on Rose”
“You must be very happy,” she said sarcastically, “You have been mentioned thrice.”
Joe felt awkward. He didn’t want an argument on the eve. “I will talk to you later,” he opened the door to go out.
“Go to hell!”
She threw the book at him that missed the target and hit the closing door.

Outside the bedroom, Gimpy was eavesdropping. He straightened himself when he saw his Dad coming out.
“Is Mom fighting with you?” he asked.
“No,” Joe gave a passive reply and went to the balcony. Gimpy followed. Joe was about to lit the cigarette, but stopped seeing Gimpy. He never smoked when gimpy was around.
“I will smoke like you, when I become big,” Gimpy said.
“Only when you become as old as me,” Joe stressed. He knew Gimpy had tried a cigarette behind his back. He had noticed the missing cigarette. He knew it was only a child’s curiosity and nothing more.

Rose would have killed Gimpy.
“Is Mom fighting with you?” Gimpy repeated.
Father and son spent a few quiet moments.
“Gimpy, why mom’s name is not in your top 5 list?”
“I don’t like mom. She hates me,” Gimpy said firmly.
“That is not true.”
“You don’t know her,” Gimpy said, and added: “Dad, can you change mom?”
The question amused Joe. “No,” he smiled, “It is too late!”
He wondered how to convince his son.
“Mom likes Ria more than me,” Gimpy complained.
“That is not true!”
“I won’t give my kite to Ria.”
“Ok. I will help you to make one.”
“I don’t need your help, Grandpa is getting me one, tomorrow”
“Grandpa is not coming for Christmas.”
“No. He is coming. I know.”
Much later, after Gimpy went to bed, it suddenly came to Joe as a lightning. He found Rose in the bedroom.
“I know what Gimpy wants.”
“His Grandpa!”
“Is it? Did he tell you that?”
“No. But I am sure.”
“What do we do now?”
“We can’t do anything. It is past midnight now. Your Dad is 3 hours from here. It is out of question. I will tell him something in the morning.”

He went to sleep. She continued reading the book, in the bed lamp.

Sometime in the night, Rose woke him up: “Joe, I am going to get Dad.”
“Now?” It took him some time to realize her suggestion.
“What time is it?”
“Do you want to drive at this hour?”
“I will take my chances. I have been thinking, last couple of hours.”
“I will come with you.”
“No. You stay with Gimpy.”
She took the car out from the garage. Joe came running, waving her to stop.
“What?” she rolled down the window.
“Get a kite.”
“Is that important?”
“Yes. Very important. Don’t come home without a kite.”


Gimpy woke up earlier than usual and searched for Grandpa in the whole house. He didn’t find Grandpa, but found his Dad in the kitchen.
“Where is Grandpa?”
“I don’t know. Is he supposed to be here?” Joe mocked surprise.
Gimpy didn’t say anything.
“Dad, Santa didn’t grant my wish this year; how is it possible?”
Joe took a long breath. This is the time – he thought.
“Gimpy, there is no Santa!”
“Why do you say that?”
“I am telling you the truth. There is no real Santa!”
“But Santa gave me all the Christmas presents.”
“Your Mom bought all those presents,” Joe told Gimpy how his Mom arranged the gifts, every year.
Gimpy fell into silence.
“So, Mom is Santa?”
Not bad, Joe thought. “Yes” said he.
“Where is Mom?”
“I don’t know; she went out in the morning.”

At this time, Gimpy saw the car entering the gate. His Mom got out, Grandpa followed with an enormous kite. Gimpy’s face lighted. “Grandpa!” he ran to meet him, crossing Rose.
Rose met her husband on the way to the bedroom, “Thanks Joe,” she said.
“No, I am fine. I will sleep for a while.”
She sat on the edge of the bed. It was long trip. She needed a long sleep. The door creaked behind her back.

No one responded. She turned, and found Gimpy at the threshold. He ran to her; jumped into her arms. The momentum gave her a backward jolt. She managed with some difficulty. His tight hug pained her. How much heavy he has become, she realized. How long she had craved his warmth. Now that he was in her arms she felt complete.
“Thank you Mom,” Gimpy said.


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