Friday, 29 January 2016

Delirious Dilemma

Blow it! No vacation trip to any special place. Just a boring vacation back at Grandpa and Grandma's place. 
Thirteen year-old Timmy and nine year-old Bobby loved it when the grandparents came visiting them in Mumbai, but they were not particularly happy about staying in the village at the old ancestral home. Nina assured them that their cousins, eleven year-old Roja and nine year-old Mythili who lived nearby would be great company. All the same she felt guilty that they would be away gallivanting in Bali while the kids fussed and fumed in the quaint native home while driving the grandparents nuts!
Timmy and Bobby were soon in the old place "Sri-Niwas" and were welcomed with much gusto, hugs and smiles by the grandparents, Aunt Leela, Nina's sister and her husband Uncle Raju, Cheenu the old gardener and Bani the cook. Mythili and Roja rushed in dumping their hastily packed bags near the door, eager to meet the boys. They had cajoled their parents to let them stay with the cousins. What a pandemonium it was with everyone chattering all at once!
"Grandpa what's the wi-fi password?" asked Timmy, "I have to show you the pictures of my car collections back home!"
"Sorry, sonny, no wi-fi or computer here. We do have TV but most of the local channels we receive here may be a bit boring for you," said Grandpa.
Timmy and Bobby's face fell, they couldn't believe wi-fi for two whole weeks? Mom never warned them about this! Evil Momma, how could she just abandon them in this old place with no entertainment?! And drat those two wimpy girls, who always wanted to play Scrabble or Dumb Charades!
Grandma saw the wan faces and cheered them up saying,"Now who wants to taste these hot and crispy pakoras? They are fresh off  the stove. I bet they'll taste delicious with the imli chutney."
Sorrows forgotten the kids dashed into the kitchen to grab the delicious treats, gobbling them up ravenously.
The next morning they woke up early to the loud chirrup of birds and the cows mooing from the nearby sheds. After a refreshing bath they waited for the piping hot breakfast at the table. Timmy and Bobby made sure they gobbled up all the hot jalebis Bani had made, leaving behind only tiny scraps for the girls. Grandpa tut-tutted at the greedy boys and instructed Bani to make a fresh batch for the girls.
Breakfast done the children were packed off to help Cheenu and Bani. Cheenu made the boys weed the garden and align the bricks in a perfect line on either side of the central cobbled path. The girls helped Bani pick the fresh okra and legumes from the kitchen garden. She made them pluck some of the beautiful flowers from the front garden and arrange them around the house in attractive bunches. 
After the chores were done they were free for to do whatever they fancied till lunch. They pored over old albums, Grandpa's huge collection of foreign coins and played board games. The boys beat the girls at all the games and laughed scornfully at them when the girls asked them what PSP meant.
Roja suggested they dig up some old story-books and spend some quiet-time reading. The books were kept crammed in an ancient trunk along with loads of forgotten nick-knacks. The girls got busy with lovely old fairy-tale books with whimsical pictures while the boys found a lot of action hero comics that had the most amazing caricatures, way better than the Japanese Mangas they were so crazy about back home.
In the stack of the action comics, Timmy found an old picture post-card. He was just about to put it back in the trunk when he saw something on the back side that caught his attention. He couldn't believe what he was seeing...

Image 1

How could this be? How could anyone know their names? Who was this? Where is 'here'? And today was 21st Dec'15! Timmy freaked out and excitedly called his brother and soon both were whispering in a corner. The girls tried to edge in and peek at the card but the boys wouldn't let them. But finally they realized they would have to let the girls in on the secret, they still didn't know where 'here' was!
The girls in turn shrieked and exclaimed when they saw the front and then the reverse of the card. 
They knew the place. It was on a hillock a little way away from the village, a large natural cave centuries old whose opening was nearly obscured by the dense untamed foliage and creepers.
The four decided to keep up the sinister appointment, wondering wildly who they would be meeting.
At 3.30 as they left home, Grandma idly mused, how come they were all together, they were at battle even today morning...ahh, kids!
They soon hiked up the hillock and reached the looked a bit different from the picture, but the girls insisted that this was the place. They waited with bathed breath a little way from the cave entrance peering through the tangled thorn bushes. They could see through the dark tunnel-like cave, the semi-circular archway of light at the other end. It was 4.10 and they were getting restless. Suddenly they saw a hazy figure at the arch, the figure waved. They felt weird but waved back too. Goosebumps all over, they crept out and stood erect, waiting cautiously for the stranger to appear fully in front of them. 
The stranger disappeared into the dark cave and eventually appeared in front of them with a wide smile and surprise on his face. 
It was Uncle Raju! He was puzzled to see the children here, and suddenly Roja and Mythili burst out laughing! They were doubled up and clutching their tummies! Their father and the boys thought they had gone crazy. Finally Roja sobered and managed to control her mirth and explained that they had successfully pulled a prank on the uppity boys. They had found the blank postcard on their last visit to the grandparents. The image reminded them of this place where their father, a botanist, regularly came around this time to collect samples of rare plants at the other end of the cave. They had successfully forged old writing on the card and placed it in between the comics, where the boys were bound to find it! Served the boys right for acting so snobbish with them all the time!
The boys were still rather stunned! But they soon came around, sheepishly apologizing to the girls. Everyone had a good laugh, the girls especially, and they all turned to go back to go home. 
Suddenly someone called out, "I am here." 
The boys turned to see who was calling. There was someone at the end of the cave waving to them.
"Girls! Who is it now?" Timmy and Bobby chorused. The girls and their father who were walking ahead looked puzzled, they hadn't heard anything, nor could they see anything when the boys pointed frantically to the cave!
It was 4.30 p.m.

Read other stories from Nina's World:

Disclaimer: All the characters in the above posts are fictional, any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

The alphabet for the week is D, and I have chosen Delirious Dilemma as the title for this little fiction.


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