It was only the third day of the lockdown. But Taronnish was already exhausted.
On normal days, she would drop Kaiwan to school and go to work. During her lunch break, she would pick him up and leave him at the daycare at her office. When back home, the house help, Smita, would come and do her job. But now, with her husband stuck in London for a project and no help at home; the daily housework, the work from home job and entertaining Kaiwan, her five year old, was getting to her.
The few minutes of reprieve that she got when Kaiwan was sleeping, were spent on WhatsApp, on the school group, scouring for any important information regarding his daily homework and then, preparing for them.
Amongst all this, Kaiwan’s questions never stopped.
“Mummy, why is that policeman beating that man outside?” He asked one afternoon, while looking out of the window.
“Because you aren’t supposed to go out. I told you the other day, don’t you remember?” Taronnish answered while typing an email on her laptop.
“But why? What is there outside? Also, why doesn’t Smita didi come home anymore? I miss her. She used to play with me whatever I wanted. You don’t listen only. Always doing tup tuptup on the lappot.” He sulked in a corner.
Taronnish laughed, “Tup tup on lappot? Sweetypie, it is called a laptop.”
She then gave him a hug, “Wait, I’ll tell you why we cannot go outside.” She found her phone and checked in the school group. Where was it…. umm… Ah, here it is…
“Look Kaiwan, your teacher has sent this story. Let’s read it.” She opened the pdf document and showed him the comic that was released by the health ministry for education of kids on the corona virus. She read it to him and Kaiwan listened in rapt attention. It was about a bunch of kids, a superhero and corona.
“Wow mummy, so Vaayu, the superhero saves all from the bad corona?”
“Yes. And also hand washing and staying away from others. That’s why, Smita didi doesn’t come anymore. So that her family and ours; both can be safe.” She explained.
“So can’t didi stay with us?” He asked again.
“Then who will look after her family?”
Kaiwan pretended to think, muttered an ‘oh’ and went back to playing.
The next morning, Taronnish was surprised when he brought a broom and started cleaning. “Hey my boy, that’s so wonderful of you!”
That little act made their day much better.
Later that night, Kaiwan snuggled close to his mother and whispered in her ears, “It’s time to call bawa.”
Taronnish looked at him with wide eyes and said, “Who taught you that word?”
Kaiwan shrugged. She ruffled his hair, “It sounds better if you use daddy or dad. Not bawa.” Not that it was a bad word or something, but still… she thought.
Few more days passed. Taronnish felt as if Kaiwan had matured years in those few days. He did not fuss much as he used to, listened to whatever she said and did his homework. All in all, he obeyed her. Taronnish felt as if she had won a war.
One day, she received a call from Smita. The call had been distressing and Taronnish decided to help her out.
Seeing his mother in a somber mood, Kaiwan asked, “Mummy, why are you sad?”
Hearing him, she quickly put a smile on her face and said, “Oh, it’s nothing dear. I was thinking about your father.” She couldn’t tell him that Smita was planning to leave for her hometown with her family, because she couldn’t afford to stay in the city anymore. Taronnish was willing to pay her salary, even an advance for the next month, but her other employers had refused. Taronnish did not want to judge others. She would do her duty.
The next morning, Kaiwan woke up in a foul mood. “I want to go down to the park.” He went on saying. He wasn’t ready to listen to anything.
Sensing a difficult day ahead, she called up Smita. As she was talking, Kaiwan heard her. “Mummy, is that didi? I want to talk to her, please?” Taronnish handed him the phone and switched the speaker on. They had their usual banter with Smita asking him to be a good boy and Kaiwan promising her to. He cheered up.
After the call, Taronnish explained to Kaiwan that she needed to go down to give Smita some money. “She needs a little help, dear. I’m going to lock the door, go to the gate, give her the money and come back. You stay put. You will be able to see me from the window.”
Kaiwan asked her to wait and ran to his room. He came out with his prized possession and kept it on the dining table.
“Mummy, give this to didi too. She will be happy. All her problems will go away.”
This unexpected gesture brought tears to her eyes. Taronnish hugged him tight, “Let’s count how much you have in this, alright? Then I’ll give it to her.”
Mother and son counted the money. The total came to 2453. “Wow, that’s a fine amount for little Kaiwan.” Just then her phone rang, “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
As instructed Kaiwan stood at the window and saw his mother and didi. Smita waved from below and blew a kiss to him. Kaiwan waved back, overjoyed.
Taronnish returned and kept a chocolate on the dining table. “Your Smita didi has given it to you.” Kaiwan stared at it and looked at her, “Mummy, you need to wash your hands first…”
Later in the evening, Taronnish told her son, “Let’s call your bawa and tell him about the wonderful thing that you did today…”
“Yes.Bawa.” She insisted.
And laughter echoed in their house.
Didi: elder sister
Bawa: Synonym for dad used by Parsis.
Photo By: Victoria Borodinov
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