She sat next to Mishti thinking about what the doctor said. Must be a change of air would definitely do good to all of them. She debated if she should go to her mother’s house. She too desperately needed a break. And the place where her mother lived was very beautiful, in the outskirts of the city and there was plenty of fresh air. And her parents would definitely spoil Mishti back to health. It had been a couple of years since she’d been there. The very thought of home got her nostalgic. Her house, her school, the playground, her friends, Sanjay, no not Sanjay, she forced him out of her thoughts, oh and there was Adila, her best friend, Ria wondered where was she now. She had heard Adila was married a couple of years ago. And then there was that eucalyptus grove which she loved more than any other place. She smiled to herself at those thoughts. She decided, she’ll take Mishti to her house.
Mayur came in, opened his backpack and tossed a brown paper cover at Ria. It was the medicines and the face wash she had asked for. She took out the prescription and the medicines and cross checked to see what was to be given when. “Look at the size of these tablets, they are like bullets”, she exclaimed.
Mayur laughed and took them from her to look at them. “Oh these are not to be taken orally. They are suppositories”. “You’re kidding”, said Ria and looked at Mishti who was still sleeping. They both burst out laughing. “When am I supposed to…”
“In the morning”, said Mayur reading the prescription. “As soon as she wakes up.”
Ria laughed again. “My poor baby, what does she have to go through. Hey, listen, remember the doctor said Mishtu needs a change of air, I was thinking, why not visit my parents. It’s been a while since I went home.”
“Sounds about good. But I can’t come now. You take her and go, I’ll join you a little later”, said Mayur. Ria pouted angrily. “Arre baba, I’ve got to go to Singapore for a client meet, have you forgotten?”, he asked. “Oh ok ok. So you’ll come to Bangalore straight from Singapore?”, she asked. “Yeah, I’ll stay there for the rest of the holidays and we can return together.”
“Alright”, she said and ruffled through the packet to see what else was there. There was a bar of chocolate. She stared at Mayur angrily. How could he get their daughter chocolate when she was sick?
“That’s for you dummy”, said Mayur hitting her on the head gently. “Oh yaay!”, she exclaimed like a happy little child. “Oh my face wash. What is this?”, she asked. “Your face wash”, he replied.
“I know, but this isn’t what I use”, she said looking at the blue and white tube.
“Yeah this was a new thing I saw. Made from eucalyptus and neem! Look at the acne on your face. It’ll help them”, he said.
New Garnier Eucalyptus, the label read. She frowned. Since when did they start making eucalyptus face washes she wondered. The question of whether it was a eucalyptus or an eucalyptus popped into her mind. She decided she must check it up later.
Ria thought she ought to call her parents and inform them of her visit. She decided to give them a surprise instead. She had an extra key to her house and her parents would be away at a wedding. So she could sneak into the house and when they returned they would definitely be very surprised. Ria smiled to herself when she saw their expressions in her mind.
She called her assistant and informed her that she will be working from home for the rest of the month since her daughter wasn’t well. “I am not on a holiday. So don’t you guys think that when the cat’s away the mice can play. Tell the others”, she added.
“What were you in your last birth? Hitler?”, her assistant joked. “I’ll pass on the message. But please let us at least have weekends off. You are a tyrant when you work from home”.
“Let me see how you behave and then I’ll decide”, Ria joked. “Duh!”, said her assistant. Ria laughed and disconnected the call.
She then made a call to her boss. The phone rang a good five or six times before he answered. “Yep?”, he said.
Ria admired the man a lot. He knew well how to balance work and life. No matter how much of stress he was in, he always was in good humor and always had a nice word for people. Ria on the other hand was never good at handling stress. She always got too worked up if things didn’t go the way she wanted them to.
“Joe”, she said.
“No, it’s his gay boyfriend here. How can I help you?”, he said.
Ria frowned. “Huh?”, she asked.
“You call on my number. Who else do you expect would answer. Of course it’s me”, he said.
“I know. I wasn’t asking for you. I just said ‘Joe’”, said Ria. The two of them loved arguing for the sake of it.
“Ok, so why you calling me on a weekend? Don’t you like getting some rest? If you don’t, at least let me. Sheesh I really wonder if I am your boss or are you mine”, he chuckled.
“Yeah that is what I am calling you about Joe. I need some real good rest. Listen I was thinking I’ll take off for a week or so and then work from home for a month. My daughter’s unwell and I need to take her over to my mother’s so she can get better”, Ria was biting her nails and hoping he’d say yes. There was a long silence.
“Ummmm….”, said Joseph after a long gap.
“What is with you bosses? Must you always hesitate so much before you say yes? C’mon Joe, Mishtu’s really not well”, Ria pleaded.
Joseph laughed aloud. “Ok, see how she feels. Yeah you can take off for a week. Give me a call and I’ll let you know if we need you in the office”, he said.
“Thank you Joe.”, said Ria excited.
“Yeah you owe me big, girl”, said Joseph.
“HUH?”, said Ria. Joseph laughed again.
“Alright. You take care of your little girl. See that she is back on her feet soon and keep me updated hear? I’ll handle things here don’t worry. You just take off and if there is anything that really needs you, I’ll let you know and you can yes work from home.”
“Aww Joseph you are a dear”, said Ria.
“Yeah whatever!” The phone clicked. Ria couldn’t stop smiling.
She made another call to her travel agent and booked her tickets for the following day. She sighed as she put the phone back on its hook. She had so much to do and so little time. She went to check on Mishti first. She was fast asleep. Her forehead felt warm. She debated if she should wake her up and give her something to eat.
“Let her sleep. Feed her when she wakes up”, Mayur said from across the living room as if reading her mind. She peeped at him and nodded. She quietly picked up a bag and packed Mishti’s stuff. The medicines would have to wait until later. Or she could leave whatever was required until they left and pack the others. Sounded like a better idea. She read through the prescription and separated out the dosages required for the next few hours.
She packed some toys, and then thought if she would really require so many toys. She could always go to Bangalore and buy some toys there. Her parents would definitely buy her lots of toys and Mayur would be getting back something from Singapore for sure. She took the toys out again. But then she couldn’t go out until Mishti was fine. And if she didn’t have toys she would be bored. She put in a couple of dolls and some Lego blocks. She packed couple of story books for her. She again bit her nails. Would this be enough? What if she got bored? Should she carry some DVDs? She scratched her head. She hated packing. She looked at her daughter who was the most unpredictable person in her life. She never knew what would keep her interested for long. She lost interest in things so easily and wanted new things every few hours. She didn’t want to carry too many things either. She decided to go with the dolls, blocks, books and DVDs. Her favorite Teddy was dripping wet. She must remember to carry that or her daughter will become her worst nightmare. That should keep her occupied for at least a week. Or so she hoped. She then fidgeted over her clothes. She threw in some socks, some skirts, frocks, t shirts, stockings, pants… was she missing out on something? Oh yes underwear. Diapers? No that will go into her hand bag. Shoes… how many? Just one for the way? How long will they be staying there?
She sat down beside the open wardrobe looking lost. After a few minutes she closed the suitcase not thoroughly satisfied. She knew she could always pack in stuff as she remembered. There was still a lot of place left. Next she had to do her own packing. That was even more painful. She took out another big suitcase. She made sure there were enough bags and suitcases for Mayur to take to Singapore. She threw open her cupboard and stood there staring at all her clothes. She wouldn’t need her business suits. So she need not pack them. She pulled out a few jeans and t shirts. And a few salwars. Oh night dress… oh darn she had forgotten to pack Mishti’s pajamas. She went back into her room and put in three sets of pajamas. Would that be enough she thought. Mishti still wet the bed. So she would definitely need a few more. She made a mental note to go and get her a few good sets of pajamas later in the day. She went back into her own room and threw in her pajamas too. Did she need new ones? She decided against it after debating for a few minutes. Would she need sarees? She could wear her mother’s sarees, but what about the blouses? Her mother’s blouses didn’t fit her. She sat on the bed biting her nails again. She pulled her hand out instantly. She realized she had been biting her nails a little too often now and she didn’t want Mishti getting into this habit. Then she realized, Mishti needed home wear socks. She ran back into his room and threw in some home wear socks.
Mayur entered the room and caught her hand. “Listen, don’t pack now. As and when you remember stuff, keep writing them down and pack everything later, maybe at night or something”, he told her.
“No, I’m almost done. I don’t think there is anything more she’ll need. You take a look no”, she told him.
He looked through the stuff and looked up at her. “Inners?”, he asked.
“Take a look in her cupboard and then decide if she needs anything. But I guess for now this will do”, said Mayur. Ria nodded and looked at the clock. It was almost lunch time and she still had to finish cooking. She wished Renuka were there. But Renuka never worked on weekends. Ria went to the kitchen and looked at what she had been doing. She washed some rice and put it in the rice cooker along with chopped vegetables. She quickly grated a cucumber and a carrot and mixed it with yoghurt to make a raita. She chopped in some green chillies and mixed them in the raita along with some salt. The pressure pan whistled a couple of times and she turned it off. The rice cooker was done too. She garnished it and finished the dal and laid everything out on the table. Mayur washed the plates and set them too. “Should I wake Mishti up?”, she asked Mayur.
“After lunch.”, he replied heaping his plate. He was suddenly very hungry. “Ria, why don’t you ever ever taste the food while you make it? Why is your food always short of salt?”, he asked walking to the kitchen to get some salt.
She tasted the food. Yes there was no salt like always. “Sorry”, she grinned at him.
He nodded and sat down to finish his food. “Ria, do me a favor and never make this sambhar again. It tastes like jail food”, he said.
She smiled back at him and apologized again.
“No papad?’, he asked. “I must have forgotten”, she said.
“Shall I roast one in the microwave?”, she asked.
“Don’t bother now”, he said. “Ria, you cook at home once a week, make that good no please. I’ve actually forgotten how you used to cook”, he said.
“Mayur, you know I’ve been quite pre occupied the whole day. It’s not fair. Last weekend you said I’ve got magic in my hands and all that. What happened to it now? What do you mean by you’ve forgotten how I cook?”, she asked her patience slowly thinning out.
“Nothing”, he said and got up to wash his hands. “Do we have dessert?”, he asked.
“There’s ice cream in the freezer”, she said clearing her plate.
She heard Mishti sneeze. She went into her room to find Mishti sitting up bright eyed. “Hey Mishtu, how do you feel?”, she asked feeling her forehead that was still warm.
“Mama, susu”, she said. She had wet the bed again. She changed her clothes and fed her some Khichdi. “Do you want to go back to bed or do you want to watch TV?”, she asked her.
“TV” came the immediate reply. She lifted her and went into the living room where Mayur was watching TV. Mishti seemed to have lost a lot of weight in just two days. She felt pretty light in her arms. She placed Mishti on Mayur’s lap and went to finish her chores. She could hear father and daughter share a private joke and laugh. It was very sweet to hear Mishti’s baby laugh. She then went into Mishti’s room and changed the sheets. She opened the washing machine and realized last night’s clothes were still in and she had forgotten to dry them. She pulled them out and smelled them. They did smell damp. She threw them back in and put the machine on rinse cycle along with some fabric softener. Twenty minutes later she dried them out on the balcony and put the bed spreads and Mishti’s soiled clothes in.
She cleared the kitchen and sat down beside Mayur to watch some TV. There was something nagging her in the head. She was wondering what could it be. She felt quite restless like she had left something half done. She then remembered. It was her packing. She decided to do it later in the evening. She wanted to sit with Mayur and Mishti now. “Mayur, can you put Mishti’s mattress out in the sun? She wet it again”, she said. Mayur nodded and kissed his daughter’s warm head. “Chi dirty girl”, said Mayur teasing Mishti who looked at Mayur and laughed. “When are you going to stop wetting your bed? Do all your friends wet the bed?” Mishti laughed uncontrollably. Ria had to stop her before she had a violent fit of coughing.
Mishti and Mayur fell asleep on the couch watching TV. Ria tip toed to her room and finished packing. She called the travel agents who said she could pick her tickets up anytime now. She felt a little at ease. The rest of the day was spent in planning her trip. She wasn’t too worried about Mayur since he too was leaving to Singapore in a couple of days.