After a long tiring day at work, Hina looked forward to a restful evening. She’d soak her feet in warm water and settle down on the couch with a book for some time. Friday evening gave her some time to unwind after a hectic week.
But the sight she saw upon entering the house was something she hadn’t expected. On second thoughts, may be she should have.
Toys lay strewn all over the living room floor. Hina gingerly stepped in, taking care to sidestep the mini-sized cars, large-sized hoop rings, and one gigantic plastic aeroplane. In stark contrast to the living room that looked like a hurricane had come visiting, the dining room seemed to be the perfect picture of serenity and peace. A deathly stillness hung in the air, the bright light from the living room being the only source of illumination.
Hina wondered where everyone was when she heard a series of shrieks rent the air. Her cautious pace turned to a run as she dashed into the room where her daughter, Meeta’s screams had come from.
She threw the door open and stood agape at what she saw.
Meeta was struggling to free her hair from her younger brother, Ranveer’s clutches. ‘Why did you break my police car?’ He screamed, tears streaming down his face, and lashed out.
‘I didn’t. You idiot! Why did you leave it lying under the swing. I ended up stepping on it.’ Slap. Meeta returned the favour.
‘Stop you two! Please. Ranveer baba, Meeta baby, please.’ Radha, their domestic help tried playing mediator.
‘Enough!’ Hina bellowed. ‘I come home after work to be greeted with this. Shame on you both for indulging in a physical fight.’ She turned to Radha. ‘Clean the living room, right now.’
Walking into the room, she grabbed Ranveer’s wrist. ‘Leave her hair now,’ she said in a low growl. ‘Both of you go sit in opposite corners of the living room. And no talking to each other.’
‘Mom, he hit me first,’ Meeta complained.
‘No, first she broke my police car - the siren one,’ Ranveer retorted.
‘I said, not a word from both of you.’ She flashed an angry look that silenced them both. Quietly, they slipped out from their bedroom to the living room.
Forsaking the leisurely bath and her anticipated reading time, Hina freshened up and came back to deal with the domestic crisis within minutes. She couldn’t trust the kids to stay in a state of ceasefire for long. Twisting her long hair into a top knot, she walked into the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea.
‘Mom, we want a solution.’ Meeta called out after her.
‘Yes, let dad come home. He will figure one out.’
‘I want pasta.’ Ranveer said, still sulking.
‘Too bad Radha doesn’t know how to make it.’
‘But you know how to make it.’
‘I’m tired, Meeta, and I can’t possibly manage everything like you expect me too.’
‘You can, you’re Wonder Woman. You can do everything.’
‘No, not anymore. I quit as Wonder Woman. I will only do what I feel like and when I feel like it. Also, I am exhausted. I had such a tough day at office today.’ She placed the cup of tea on the dining table and sighed. ‘Mommy also has a headache. And now I have to look for a police car for Ranveer and make pasta for you both.’ She pressed a hand to her forehead. ‘Not to mention playing referee for your screaming matches.’
She watched from the corner of her eyes as the warring parties looked at each other and then at her.
‘Sorry mommy, I don’t want police car. It was already broken as it is. The siren wasn’t working and the wheels had come off. It was old and worth throwing away anyway.’ Ranveer tugged at her hand.
‘And we don’t want pasta. We’ll eat whatever Radha didi has made for dinner.’ Meeta said and hugged her.
She hugged them back and let out a mock sniffle. ‘Sure, na? You’re not upset with me for not making pasta or getting you a new toy.’
‘No mom. Not at all.’ The children chorused.
‘Okay then, off you scoot and finish your homework. And don’t fight anymore, okay?’ She sniffled again.
Picking up her cup of tea, she moved from the dining room to the living room. As she settled on the couch, she saw Radha looking at her from the doorway of the kitchen. With a hand on her waist, her head tilted to one side, and a smile playing on her lips, Radha’s expression said it all without the use of words.
Hina returned the smile before turning her attention to her book.