Updated: Aug 21
Neel woke up with the shuffling noise. He opened his eyes a crack and saw Durga moving around in the room, opening cupboards, banging against things. Usually he’d get very annoyed at this, he hated his mornings to begin in a hustle, Durga knew this and she’d tiptoe around him till he’s had his morning coffee.
He shut his eyes again and resisted the urge to deeply sigh, then today was not a usual day.
‘Ma! Ma! Toplu has eaten all Bonku’s food!’ A nasal voice carried into the room.
Neel pressed his head further into the pillow, unwilling to deal with the madness. He knew his studious daughter could tolerate everything except her twin and her pet Owl Toplu. He could imagine his daughter standing with her hand on her hips, peering behind her big glasses scowling at the hapless owl.
‘Hush Ira! You know Daddy is sleeping. Go on out, I’ll come,’ Durga said as she walked out.
Opening his eyes again, Neel saw her silhouette walking away and his heart warmed. He always felt Durga married beneath her stature, she was a celebrated doctor! Won so many accolades, the walls of the house were decorated with her awards. While he was in to alternative medicine, everyone often told him he needed to be more serious about stuff, about family about his profession but his main thrill was connecting with people and the fact that they were healed was an added bonus! He still hated to charge his patients.
‘Quack! Quack!’ Bonku came in as if requesting his presence for solving what was snowballing into a big fight right outside.
‘Coming!’ Shrugging all pretence of sleep, he got up from the bed and trudged into the bath room not before stamping on the hapless mouse sleeping on doormat.
‘Aghh! Vyom! Please keep your mouse out of my bedroom!’ He somehow snuck into the bath room and shut the door, before Bonku and the mouse could follow him.
When he and Durga had moved into Kailash Heights many moons ago, it’d been perfect. Durga was pregnant with the twins, and he’d thought a four-bedroom house will be more than enough for occasional visits from to be grandparents and a full-time maid. Little did he know, that they’d have another set of twins a few years later and let alone a separate room for maid, he’d have to fight time in the bathroom. And when his mild Heera had saved an owl who’d been stuck in plastic, each child had insisted on a pet for themselves. Enter Bonku, mouse and then his youngest Mayon had gone one step ahead and they now had a peacock family staying with them. Their house can become a case study for national geographic
Rubbing his face in his palms, he hurriedly freshened up and went to kitchen in search of coffee. The mayhem outside had calmed down which meant Durga had threatened them with Dire consequences. Taking the coffee pot, he poured the rich brown liquid in his cup and looked straight into the baleful eyes of Toplu, who seemed very upset at being disturbed in the morning.
‘Good you are up!’ Durga bustled in.
‘At least Let me finish the coffee.’
Durga’s big eyes startled at his savage tone, her eyes searched Neel’s face for a while and then softened, intense pain lashed his heart. He reached for her face, the need to touch her acute.
Rolling his eyes at interruption, he turned towards his youngest. His heart breaking a little at the thought of not seeing him tomorrow morning.
‘Must you go?’ His voice now close to wail, which matched Mayons.
‘Uff one baby at a time,’ Durga admonished.
‘I knew you don’t love me anymore.’ Neel grumbled, ‘Your patients are more important!’
‘Don’t start it again!’ Durga said gently, yet he recognised the firmness of her voice. In the eons they’ve been together for he’d heard the tone many a times.
‘Ma! Vyom has eaten the laddus from all the snacks and now he says his tummy is hurting.’
Durga slapped her hand on her forehead and took out the predictable bottle of pudinhara.
‘Please leave these two with me,’ Neel knew he was pleading but couldn’t help it.
‘You know last time I left them with you, Vyom found your stash of weed.’
‘Medicinal Marijuana, and I caught him.’
‘Not before he inhaled most of it through his long nose. No! the kids are okay with me.’ Durga shut the medicine box, after giving a green Vyom some of the green liquid.
‘Can we have some more snack to go Ma?’ Heera and Ira walked in, Neel’s heart was threatening to disintegrate into a puddle seeing them.
‘I already packed them.’ Mayon butted in before Durga could answer. ‘Vyom has promised he’d not touch them and anyways he is too sick now.’
‘His sickness will last a mere ½ hour, better lock them up.’ Ira said firmly pushing her glasses up her nose.
‘We are ready Ma.’
‘Okay all of you go sit in the Peugot.’
‘Why don’t you take the Alpha Romeo as well?’ Neel said kissing each of his child good bye as they filed out. His heart now threatening to stop any minute.
‘No thank you,’ Durga said picking up her bag.
‘Are your patients so important? That you are choosing to leave me?’
‘Neel! Don’t do this. We’ve talked about it for days.’
‘Durga! I love you.’
‘I know.’ Durga walked out towards the car, buckling each of the kid. It gave her something to do, she hated good byes left to herself she’d leave in the middle of the night when Neel is sleeping. She looked at his forlorn eyes, the desolation in them breaking her heart.
She slipped into the hazy memories of early days, while Neel kissed each of their children goodbye whispering advices in their ears. It’d been fun just the two of them, loitering around streets, taking a swim in the waterfall close by. There was no fancy condo setup then, just their tiny house on top of the mountain. Then suddenly with that idiot Dr. Buffalo everything changed, he started taking over the hospital in the city, using patients for his neurotic experiments, killing them when they refused. She had to step in, it was her intervention and her meticulous research that finally put that idiot behind the bars. After that it was difficult to break away and now, she doesn’t remember a time when they weren’t!
Why doesn’t Neel understand that they needed her?
A kiss on the corner of her mouth bought her back to present.
‘Go on! leave me alone, be the saviour. I’ll wait for you till the eternity. ‘
Durga resisted the urge to roll her eyes, gave Neel a kiss on his cheek and got into the car.
‘Relax! I’ll be back in five days.’ She smiled and kissed him one more time, like she did every year and drove off.