The end of a party leaves you with a feeling of emptiness. The people leave after the singing, dancing and eating. The noise subsides. The balloons burst in the heat.
What remains are the plates and utensils to be washed up.
“Put Raman to bed while I do the dishes,” says the exhausted wife to the husband.
The husband is very understanding. He knows that his wife is even more exhausted than he is. They are a working couple. The corporate bosses suck both their blood in equal measures from the waking time of 5 am to the bedtime of 12 midnight. The time at home is also dedicated to answering emails of their respective bosses and transferring the profits to the bank balances of the bosses or the bosses’ relatives or the relatives’ relatives.
The son’s birthday party was just over. The children of the neighbouring flats were invited. The least they could do for their only son who had just turned five.
“Tell me a story, dad,” said Raman as soon as he tucked himself beneath the bed sheet. The cooler whirred at the window.
Mum always put the boy to sleep with a tale, he knew it. A fairy tale, in all probability. Mum had a lot of dreams. Those who dream a lot have a lot fairies in their stories.
“Once upon a time,” he started.
“Oh!” said his son, “don’t tell me those stupid stories, please. No more kings and queens.”
“No, sonny,” he said. “Not about kings and queens. It’s about you. You and me and mum.”
Raman looked at Dad as if he was the biggest fraud in the world.
“Once upon a time,” said Dad ignoring his son’s eyes, “there was a boy. The boy was good. Too good. So good that nobody liked him.”
Raman’s eyes lit up with a sparkle that was almost blinding.
“His friends thought that he was an idiot. They teased him. They called him names. They called him Chamcha. They called him Mama’s boy. They called him Boy. He didn’t understand any of those names. He didn’t understand why his classmates or any other boys never allowed him to join their company. They seemed to hate him. So Boy went and sat under a tree.”
“Like Isaac Newton waiting for the apple?” asked Raman.
“Who told you about Isaac Newton?” Dad was surprised.
“I read in the Children’s Digest. Cartoon strip.”
“Oh. Yeah. Like Isaac Newton. And Boy dreamt. Like Isaac Newton. He dreamt of a world of apple trees on the mountains. Dreamt. Dreamt of golden marigolds in verdant valleys. Of the silver brook that babbles down the pebbly mountain into the verdant valley. Of the fish that swim and birds that sing. Of wheat that sways in the wind and jasmines that dream in the night ...”
“You’re a good story teller,” said Wife when she came in having completed her work in the kitchen. “I never managed to put him to sleep so quickly.”
“Jasmines are dreaming in his mind,” said Husband.
Let him dream. Let him dream until his mind will be stripped of the dreams.
He hugged his wife. They kissed each other. And they forgot their weariness.