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Frankly, I am not the kind who falls all over children (or babies for that matter). There are those who only have to see one and they are cooing, cuddling, tickling, baby-talking, laughing, asking n number of questions and more. Not I. I might of course do that with cats and dogs. But, when it comes to children, it is just not my style or inclination. I leave them alone and it is fine if they leave me alone too.

In spite, or may be precisely because of it, children make friends with me, one such being Deju whom I mentioned in my post of yesterday, the one who loved the cakes I made and was my fan. At the time I knew him, he must have been 4, as innocent and naughty as they come, and as often happens giving rise to some funny incidents.

One day I had been busy in the garden all morning, re-potting plants. Close to lunch time I decided to stop. All sweaty and dirty that I was, a cool bath and lunch in that order was next on the agenda, when I heard the doorbell ring. It was Deju’s Mom at the door looking all worried.

Apparently, Deju had hurt his finger and she wanted me to please drive her to the Military Hospital. Her only other alternative was to walk to the main gate of the cantonment area and hail an auto-rickshaw and that would mean loss of precious time. So I quickly changed into something cleaner and drove them over and back home.

The same evening, out for a walk with a couple of other ladies, I happened to mention about Deju getting hurt and they suggested we go and find out how he was doing. Accordingly we walked over to his house which was in the vicinity of the playground. As we were about to ring the doorbell,  Deju arrived like a whirlwind from where he was standing next to the swings. He had seen us walking up the road and had run over to intercept us when he saw us take the path that led to his house.

“Ah here you are, our little hero! How are you?” I asked on seeing him.

He didn’t pay attention to, or answer, the question.

“Mohan Aunty, you can’t go in!” he declared parking himself between us and the door.

“Why not? We have come to enquire after your well being.” I was amused.

“I am fine.” He showed me his bandaged finger. “But you can’t go in!” On that he was clear.

“Is Mommy not home?” Now I was puzzled and curious.

“She is. But you can’t go in because Daddy’s home!”

On hearing this, laughter bubbled inside me, my friends too were dying to laugh out loud. But I simply nodded to him in all seriousness and said it was okay, we had only come to find out how he was doing, we’d meet his mother the next day. It is usual in the army for ladies-only visits to happen in the morning hours. So Deju probably felt evening time, when his Dad was home was not the right time for us ladies to visit his mother.

When Deju’s family was about to move out of the station, the L&M and I decided to take them out for a farewell dinner. We drove over to pick them up. As soon as our van stopped outside his house, Deju came out of the door like a bullet from a gun, excited to be going out with Mohan Aunty.

He started prattling as soon as he was out of the door as was his habit and the first thing he said was his Mom had wanted to buy me a parting gift, but his Dad had vetoed the idea saying there was no need of any of that. ‘So you don’t get a gift Mohan Aunty! he said. From a child’s point of view mine was a great loss and I had all his sympathy.

I kept a straight face and nodded, then quickly changed the subject asking him about the toy he was holding. Right in time too, because the rest of the family walked out right then and  we were saved an awkward moment.

I was the only adult invitee to his birthday party (4th or 5th) which falls in February. There is a picture of us together taken at that party somewhere in my album. He must be a teen now and will probably be embarrassed to read these anecdotes. But then, this is not his real name. So in case he ever comes across this post, he can read and have a good laugh and rest assured no one else will know whose story it is.

And oh, by the way, his mother did get me a gift the next day, a beautiful and delicate looking blue flower vase and it still adorns a corner of my showcase.

©Shail Mohan 2016

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