It was one of those rare nights when Amrita had a humongous task of putting Nik to bed all by her own and alone. Reason? She was at her parents’ place in Chandigarh where Raghav was to join them a week later.
The first day post their arrival was very eventful. Smita was up on a mission to shop for her little sister’s wedding. Smita had insisted that she travel from Mumbai to be a part of her shopping, because she just didn’t trust her parents to agree with the latest fashion trends and the seemingly exorbitant prices of designer dresses. Amrita had objected to Smita’s skepticism, but then was rudely reminded by her younger sister that she had married some 6 years back and had hardly been an active participant for her own wedding shopping. Amrita had been working in a different city and hardly had any time to go shopping. Moreover, before her wedding, she had been one of those rare girls, who did not see the point in fretting over wedding shopping. Though now Amrita did realize that it was extremely naïve of her to think likewise. Even today she shuddered at the memory of the ladies from her in-laws side, opening up her baggage to have a look at the collection of clothes that her parents had gifted her. She had even fumbled in utter dismay, when one of the older ladies had asked her, ‘How many sets of clothes have you brought along?’
But Amrita was wiser now. And she was not going to let anyone ruin her little sister’s wedding shopping. But that’s not the story her. It had been a tiring day and Amrita realised that Nik had felt ignored the entire day. During their shopping spree, he intermittently kept throwing the ‘I want to go home’ tantrum.
Once back home, Nik realised that he had not come back to his own home; he was rather back in his Nanu’s home. Amrita observed that Nik was deep in thought, but a couple of probes did not bring him to talk his mind. Amrita did not push further and got on with her chores.
As night fell, Amrita changed Nik into his night suit and tried to calm him to sleep. She realized that Nik was still distracted. So Amrita instead of continuing the lullaby, asked him if he wanted to share what he was thinking with his Mumma.
Nik – Mumma? yeh kya humara ghar hai? (Is this our house?)
Me – Haan Beta, yeh humara ghar hai. (Yes dear, it is.)
Nick – Par yeh toh Nanu ka ghar hai? (This is Nanu’s house , isn’t it?)
Me – (in a sleepy and desparate attempt to put an end to his curiosity and questions) Haan beta Nanu ka ghar bhi humara ghar hai aur Dadaji ka ghar bhi humara ghar hai. (Yes dear Nanu’s house is also our house and Dadu’s house is also our house.)
Nick – Yeh toh Bahut achchi baat hai. Dono ghar humare ghar hain(It seems to be a good idead that both the houses our indeed ours.)
Amrita replied in affirmative without giving much thought to the conversation. The rest of the trip went off smoothly while they shopped for Smita and her parents. Raghav joined them a week later and got his task list for the wedding ticked off.
A couple of weeks after they had returned from Chandigarh, while Amrita was busy in the kitchen preparing dinner for Nik, she overheard her son’s conversation with his grandmother.
Nik: Dadi, you know what, I have two houses.
Nik’s grandmother raised her eyebrows and asked him to explain.
Nik: Look, grandfather’s house is my house. And Nanu’s house is also my house. So I have two houses.
My mother-in-law probably took his observation in good spirit and carried on with the conversation.
‘But that’s true with everyone. Everybody has two grandfathers and thus has two houses.’
Nik took a moment’s pause. He was probably gathering his thoughts. What he said next sent Amrita running towards the grandmother-grandson duo in a haste while she wished that a hole come on my way and she be swallowed by it.
‘No it’s different you know. In this house I have my cousin Kriti, so it’s a shared house. But in Chandigarh, I am the only one. So I am the sole person who has that house.
Amrita stood wondering how her almost 3 year had actually perceived the entire scenario and come up with his inferences and conclusions, when no one else had ever discussed similar things in his presence. She thought how awfully perceptive kids are and failed to understand how they process data to form their own little world of information.
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