Vivek arrived at Raj's home a little after 7:30 pm. After the usual greetings Raj invited him to sit in the drawing room. An extended silence hung in the room. Raj didn't know what to say. He didn't even know why Vivek wanted to meet with him again. He and Vivek were never friendly to the extent that Vivek would visit his house so often. He wanted to get over with this as soon as possible and instructed Sheila to serve them tea right away.
Once Sheila served the tea, Vivek tried to strike up a conversation. "So how are kids taking their mom's absence?"
"They are trying to cope… Eventually things will settle down for all of us…" replied Raj.
Vivek looked keenly around the house. "I don't see the kids around. Where are they?"
Raj smiled, "I'll call them. They must be busy playing or something. Sneha, Ankur, come on over. Uncle Vivek wants to see you."
Sneha ran into the room and said, "Hi, Uncle Vivek!" through a toothy smile.
Ankur walked slowly into the room. As soon as he saw Vivek, he hid his face. He hurried and sat down with his papa. He hated the way Vivek stared at him.
"Say hello to Uncle Vivek, Ankur," Raj said.
Ankur lifted his finger and pointed towards Vivek.
"And that's his hello!" announced Raj brightly.
Ankur rested his hands on his lap for a while, but, a few minutes later, again pointed.
"Yes Ankur, hello," Vivek said smiling slyly.
Ankur stood up from Raj's lap, continuing to point at Vivek as he moved. His hand shook as he pointed. He looked at Raj and kept pointing at Vivek, as if to say, "He's the one!"
"Ankur, what is wrong with you? Please sit down or go back to your room!" Raj rebuked him, thinking Ankur was simply demanding tea.
Being misunderstood frustrated Ankur. He hopped on his legs. He muttered words that made no sense.
As Sneha tried to calm him, she heard him say, "Mah!" in the jumble of words. This surprised her. She knew now that Ankur was not fond of tea.
Knowing that Ankur would soon be out of control, she ran to her room to fetch her headphones and CD player. She immediately switched them on and started his favourite playlist. Despite his hopping, she managed to put the headphones on his ears. Although Ankur continued to move, he grew less agitated until Sneha was able to coax him into her room.
Ankur focused on the music and felt soothed. He lie on Sneha's bed, completely immersed.
Sneha found Ankur's behaviour pretty strange. When Vivek left that evening, she went to her father right away.
Her fourteen years innocence and intelligence came to its peak! "Papa, Ankur never behaves like that. He is not fond of tea. I don't think he wanted anything. He was pointing towards Uncle Vivek. Last time he also did the same thing and we thought he wanted to have tea, but why would Ankur point towards him? I don't know, Papa… maybe I'm overthinking… but I am sure that Ankur was trying to say something…"
Raj smiled at her dismissively. "Thank you for caring about your brother, but it was nothing. Just forget it ever happened. I know you want to understand him, but you can't." Raj hugged her, wishing he could be as innocent and naïve as her.