Utpal is home for his Diwali break. Home this time is the women centre without mom as she is back in rehab. Home is where his toys and preferred TV programmes await his return, where the fridge is laden with his favourite goodies and where his pals both big and small look forward to his homecoming.
On his way home, Popples dropped by my home. He sauntered in a huge smile on his face, a twinkle in his eyes. After some hugging and cuddling, he fished out a folder sheet of paper from his pocket and handed it to me. It was a Diwali greeting card, the kind every school child makes: some glitter, a handful of lamps, candles and diyas carefully coloured with crayons, and the customary Happy Diwali in curly letters. Inside the card was a simple message: Rose is red, sky is blue, Mummy and Daddy I L U.
As I read the words, my hear missed a beat. I looked at him and softly asked him: is this for me? The answer was a simple: yes.
I was moved to tears; my throat choked painfully. I just hugged him tighter unable to utter the words I wanted to. He simply held on to me tight. Then like all little boys he wanted to know what i had got for him and whether there was an orange - his favourite fruit - in the fridge. Needless to say there was. We spend some time chatting and he told me about his maths test that had been held the same morning and in which according to him he had secured 10/10! After a while he wanted to go off to the women centre and watch cartoons.
I sat for a long time, his precious gift in my hands. I wonder whether he understood the meaning of the words he had scrawled, whether he realised that there were things in his life which were different. Did he feel he was missing something is pals had. Or was his still too young and had just made the card without grasping the meaning of the words. Or was it that he felt that it was meant for the people he cared for and hence for his maam'ji! I knew the day would come when real questions would spring in his mind and when answers would have to be found.
My thoughts went back to what I had written in dear Popples: Popples you will have to, one day, write an essay about your family and you will find it very hard to do it because if you do what big people ask you to, then you will be writing a pack of lies, and if you write the truth, your little friends may not quite understand. But I want you to know that if you begin by writing lies then you will have to do so all along, whereas if you say the truth and even if one person sticks by you, you will have won!