A Roast

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

A Roast

Words 100

 

Drip drip drip 

He couldn’t breathe because of the all-pervading stench that seeped into his bones.

To make it worse, it was cold and dark.

He squirmed and shuddered as something brushed his leg.

He wouldn’t scream.

He just wouldn’t.

That would spoil his chances.

A crackle and grunt

He held his breath. Was that…?

The darkness vanished.

“What are you doing here?”

“Mom!” He protested, “I was about the catch the alien.”

“Don’t worry darling, they are waiting for you at the dining table.”

“Yay!” He jumped up. “What did you make? Baked or stew…?”

“Earthlings are best roasted.”

***

A/N Yahoo! Finally managed to contribute to FF after a long time 🙂

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by the photo prompt or join in click here.

 

Caught in the Middle

ted-strutzs-town
Photo (c) Ted Strutz

Caught in the Middle

Words 101

“When is Deva coming?” Arnav asked Khushi.

“He hasn’t confirmed.”

“I’m booking his tickets.” Arnav fumed.

“But…”

“Does he plan to come after Diwali?” He silenced her.

“Why did Dad book my tickets?” Deva blasted Khushi. “I told you I would manage.”

“So what if he booked?” Khushi soothed.

“But Mom, I have a presentation then! Please cancel it.”

“If I cancel, he may not get any tickets!” Arnav warned Khushi. “It’s Diwali.”

“I’ll manage Mom.”

“How?” Arnav grilled Khushi. “Teleportation?”

“Mom please tell Dad to chill.”

“High time Deva grew up Khushi and acted responsibly.”

“Mom perhaps I’ll skip Diwali.”

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Ted Strutz for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

Whimsical Notes

music-room
Photo (c) Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Whimsical Notes

Words 100

“Do your homework.” She told her seven-year-old, who was sprawled on the bed, his nose buried in a book. “I’m going to the market.”

He scrabbled up. “Market? I’m coming with you.” He hunted for his shoes.

“What?! No!” She was taken aback. “It’s only vegetable shopping. You hate that…”

“Bad things happen to girls in parking lots.” He said darkly. “I can’t do anything,” he admitted, “but I can shout for help.”

My baby, my knight!

“Would you like to learn to play the guitar?” Perhaps that would distract him.

“Does he have a mustache?”

“The teacher? Yes.”

“Okay.”

***

A true account written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and the photo prompt. To read the other stories click here

 

 

A New Breed of Terrorists

Photo (c) Fatima Fakier

A New Breed of Terrorists

Words 100

“Mamma!” A scream of pure terror rent the lazy afternoon silence.

David.

Carol’s heart stopped.

She dropped the casserole and ran out into the backyard.

She stopped short in horror.

An unkempt dark skinned man held a knife at her son’s throat.

Stop. Stop. Stop. Please!” Carol begged falling to her knees. “What do you want? Take it. Take everything anything just leave him. Please.” She sobbed.

“I want,” His eyes were crazed, “to make you feel my pain.”

She struggled to her feet.

“A child for a child.” He waved his knife.

“No! Please!”

“Tell the President.” He vanished.

***

Written for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Fatima for the photo prompt. To read and participate in the challenge click here.

The link to the picture? I am sorry but I cannot ‘see’ anything else….

Arnav Goes to School – VI

Finally the final part!!! 😀

Click here for the previous chapters:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Pink and Red Balloons during Daytime

Part VI

“What the….!”  Khushi blinked and shook her head.

No blood, no mayhem and no Arnav either.

“Where’s your Daddy?”

Deva didn’t even look up while Chotti straightened and waved a vague hand, “Inside.” She went back to coloring the sea, sticking out her tongue. The dolphins were tricky they kept trying to merge with the sea. Or was it the sea splashing on to them?

Yeh Laad Governor bhi na. Khushi fumed. Master manipulator and number one trickster – didn’t even spare his kids. Her eyes narrowed and her lips firmed. If he thought he had ‘won’ the deal, he had another think coming. She wandered over to Guddu and peered over his shoulder.

He was studying!

On his own!

Unbelievable!

Some hanky panky was afoot. She was sure. “Why isn’t he here?” She asked mildly enough throwing her bag on the sofa and crouching down beside Chotti.

“Oh Mamma,” Chotti looked up her eyes sparkling, “Daddy is in the guest room ‘creating’ some fun thing for us.”

Khushi sat back on her heels in surprise. Creating some fun thing? What did that mean? Oh! Right! She smacked her head and stood up. He had blackmailed and terrorized her poor little babies while he made deals in the privacy of the guest room. I should have said no phones allowed, she cursed herself. She decided to catch him in the act but just as she turned her eye fell on his phone that was charging on the side table. Just what the hell was going on?

“Hey Chotti aren’t you done yet?” Deva stretched. “Don’t tell me I have to wait for you!?”

“Just this little bit Da.” Chotti pleaded. She looked up. “Help me?”

“Okay.” Guddu plopped down beside her.

Khushi’s eyebrows shot through the roof. From which side did the sun rise today?

“Da,” Chotti was speaking softly, “How was your test?”

“Okay.”

Chotti looked at him worriedly. “Why don’t you check it over once again? You don’t want…”

“Maybe I will.” Deva went back to scanning the sheet.

Chal kya raha hai boss?! Laad Governor to sahi main boss nikle! Khushi felt a grudging admiration but mostly annoyance. He comes one day and gets them to not only dance to his tunes but talk to each other civilly as well. But just for that she was willing to give him a walk over.

She frowned. What was he doing in the room? Was he sleeping? Was he not well?

“So all done guys?” A disheveled Arnav strolled in with a bit of pink streamer sticking out his pocket and a bit of thread clinging lovingly to his cheek. “Hi!” He smiled as he spotted Khushi and blinked slowly at her.

Unknowingly, unwillingly Khushi floated towards him and plucked the gustakh thread from her personal beard and flicked it away. “And what were you doing my dear Laad Governor?” She marveled at his expression. So relaxed and comfortable. Arnav’s eyes were sparkling. He leaned down and whispered into her ear. “It’s a secret. But I can tell you another secret if you like?”

Khushi could only stare and blink at him. She brushed a hand over his hair. “What?”

His breath tickled her senses. She shivered. “I was having,” he paused, “fun.” He looked amazed and thrilled at the same time.

Khushi laughed at his joy. “Fun doing what?”

Arnav turned to the children still slaving away. “What?! Not done yet?” He flicked the paper from Deva and said, “Go help Angel.”

Without a word of protest, Deva sank down beside Chotti who also shifted to make space for him.

“I don’t understand.” Khushi shook her head in bewilderment. “What have you done to them?! Where are my squabbling bachchas!?”

Arnav coughed and hemmed and hawed. He leaned towards her and muttered into her ear behind the cover of the exam sheet. “Much as I would love to claim magical powers, I have to admit I got the hang of it only half-hour ago.” He shook his head and said with a sense of wonder. “When I surrendered.” He slid his arm around Khushi and pulled her close. “They are adorable. Thank you.” He kissed her chastely.

Khushi blinked at him and smiled tremulously. “Thank you.” Her heart was in her eyes and the RV, which was blowing softly, picked up tempo.

“Tantarraaaa!” Chotti jumped up holding her chart, urging her brother to hold the other end. “How’s it?” she asked with eager anticipation.

“It’s beautiful.” They chorused. “Isnt it Guddu?” Khushi prodded.

“Yeah. Dad, were the answers okay?”

Arnav looked down at the sheet in his hand. “Oh, yeah, well,” his eyes glinted, “now that your Mom is here she can check it,” smirking he thrust it into her hand and walked ahead, “come on and check out my ‘homework’!”

“Yay!” The children ran after him. He turned back to look at Khushi. “Aren’t you coming?”

Now what? Khushi slipped the test paper in the social studies book and hastened to catch up though she needn’t have hurried. He was waiting for her.

“Okay, here’s the thing,” he was as excited as Chotti was while getting ready for a shopping expedition, “Khushi you close Angel’s eyes and I will close Deva’s and yours.”

They stared at him and each other in surprise.

“Come along now. Hurry!” ASR hustled them.

Blinded and handicapped, they shuffled forward with Arnav guiding them ahead inside the room. He quickly shut the door with his foot and led them in. “Can you feel something?”

Khushi shook her head. “No.”

Chotti raised her nose and sniffed. “I smell something. I know!” she jumped up and shook off her mother’s hand shrieking, “Balloons!”

And balloons it was! The entire room was filled with balloons. Green and pink balloons bobbed above them, just out of reach.

“What’s all this?” Khushi asked in wonder even as Chotti jumped up trying to catch them. Even Guddu lost his gravity and joined her.

“Hey! Hey, wait, wait,” Arnav cautioned, “there are rules.”

“Rules?” They chorused.

“Yes!” Arnav nodded. “It’s a game.” His eyes were sparkling and he rubbed his hands in glee. “See those makeshift goals?” he pointed to two crude semi enclosures at the opposite ends of the room made with streamers – again pink and green. “So it’s like this there are two teams. Deva and your Mom, and Angel and I. Yours are the green balloons and ours are the pink balloons. Okay?”

They nodded. “But what do we have to do?” Chotti asked.

“We have to transfer our color balloons to our goal. But,” he paused, “we can only use our heads to do so. Four points for a goal and two points for bursting the other team balloon. So what do you think?” He asked in anticipation.

“Mom! Let’s play!” Guddu jumped into the fray. “Come on hurry! We can win this,” he looked at Chotti and smirked. The fire of battle was in Khushi’s eyes as she strapped and tucked in her dupatta around her waist.

“Daddy!” Chotti pulled at Arnav. “Come on!”

And away they headed, this way and that way, bumping into each other not to mention furniture and the walls. But did they care? No! They were having too much fun, especially popping the other team balloons. Guess who was winning?

Arnav’s team of course!

Including Chotti in his team was a strategic decision – he picked her up and carried her around as she head-butted the high floating balloons, pitching pink ones into the goal and pinching the green ones against the wall. He was her eyes, she his head. The scales were heavily tilted against the mother-son duo and they cried foul loud and long, which made the game ever so much fun. It was a boisterous game fun-filled game that left them panting and grinning from ear to ear – especially Arnav and Chotti.

“This was the best day ever Daddy!” Chotti clung to her father.

Unstated and thirsting for victory Guddu asked, “Do we have more balloons Mom?”

Khushi looked at Arnav, who shook his head. Actually he had the rest of the balloons stashed away safely.

“Mom, can we play this game with Anki bhaiyya and Shubham….?”

“Not Shubham!” Chotti sprang up.

“You don’t have to play!” Guddu retorted.

“Why not?”

“Because you are a cry-baby!”

“I am not!” Denied Chotti hotly. “You are just being mean because I won…”

“Oh please! You didn’t win. Dad did..”

Leaving them to sort it out among them, Khushi turned to Arnav to sort out their issues. “You cheated!” Khushi said but without much heat. “You deliberately took Chotti in your team.”

Arnav shrugged and flicked her nose. “Too late to cry now.”

Khushi huffed and puffed. “I demand a rematch.”

Arnav grinned. “Any time, my dear any time.” He cast a look at his still squabbling kids and lowered his voice. “Just you and me okay?”

“Deal.” Khushi sighed as she was reminded of the reason for the day. “Okay so that means, you won today’s deal.” She had little choice but to concede defeat. “What do you want me to do?”

Arnav shook his head, “I may have won the game, with a little bit of smart thinking but today was an eye-opener. And,” he coughed, “You don’t know how many times I almost caved in and called you.”

“Why?” Khushi laughed. “Couldn’t make them toe the line like your employees?”

He shook his head. “Give me a roomful of employees any day!” They laughed. He held her hands. “I learned a lot today and appreciate how difficult it must be for you…”

Khushi squeezed his hands, “But I wouldn’t exchange it with a roomful of employees!” Khushi scratched her head and admitted. “Although some days I do wish I could run away.”

Arnav nodded. “I understand now.” He looked at them on the verge of blows. He sighed. “So, much as I hate to admit it – you win. I lose.” Strangely her smile of victory did nothing to ruffle his feathers. “So what do you want me to do?”

Khushi nibbled at her lips. “I want you to promise to spend more time with the kids, not just on holidays but during their weekdays, school days….”

“I will come once a week,” Arnav swore, “maybe twice a week.” He was determined to make up for lost time.

Khushi raised her hands in mock horror. “Not twice a week please! I can’t handle three kids together on a weekday.” She paused. “Well maybe I could take the afternoon off…”

“Whaa…? No! And just who are you calling a kid? Hey! Don’t do that!” Arnav yelled and grabbed hold of Guddu just as he was about to literally pull the rug from under Chotti’s feet.

“Just look at him Daddy!” Sobbed Chotti, “he always does this….”

“Enough of your drama Chotti,” Khushi said exasperated, “I saw what you did…”

“I didn’t do anything…” Chotti cried piously.

“You did!” Guddu shouted. “You broke…”

“I did not!

“You did!”

“Did not!”

“Well maybe once a month,” Arnav said. He scratched his head, “Or once in two months, perhaps for a couple of hours…when you are at home…”

“Oh no, no, that’s cheating Arnav…”

“No it’s not! It’s just that I would love to spend more time with you…”

“Liar! You just want back up support…”

“Rubbish!”

“No! I can see it in your face…” Khushi shook her finger at him.

“What can you see in my face?” Arnav moved forward.

“That look…” Khushi stood her ground.

“Which look?”

“That look which says i-got-khushi-cornered-where-i-want-and-i-will-just-on-squeezing-her-until-she-caves-in expression.” She accused

“What the…!” Arnav was surprised into laughter, “Unbelievable! Where do you get that from?”

“From your face…”

“Nonsense…”

And so on and so forth they went on and on beating their kids hollow (err figuratively speaking of course) and I had little choice but to draw the curtain on this day where Arnav (literally and figuratively) went to school.

A/N Thanks for your company on this whimsical journey of mine – wouldn’t have been half as much but for your active participation and appreciation. If you would like to read more about Guddu, Chotti and Anya (including her particular love story with a twist) who are all inextricably entwined with the lives of Arnav and Khushi, please join me for some old wine on a new page. The original Silver Streaks which I have begun to re-post on my blog or you could read some more snippets from there lives which are listed here: From DM’s Desk

 

 

Arnav Goes to School – V

Click here for the previous chapters:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Children Multicolored Hand Paint
Photo from Pexels

Part V

“I’m afraid Deva this isn’t working out,” Arnav softened his words with a smile. “I think you should read it a couple of times and then I’ll give you some questions, which you can answer and,” He nodded his emphatically, “that will give you an idea about your strengths and weakness, not by this…this verbal Q&A session.”

“But I always….” Deva protested.

“Daddy come and help me!” having set up the craft material to her satisfaction, Chotti demanded her share of his attention.

“Okay!” Arnav raised his hands in surrender. “Here’s the deal.” He looked at his phone, “the order will be here in 30 minutes. Deva you read your chapter thoroughly while I sit with Angel and help her out,” Chotti glowed while Deva glowered. “And then we’ll take a goodie break and I’ll make a few questions,” quelling a ready-to-protest-Devansh with a look, “simple multiple choice questions,” Devansh subsided, “which you can do after the break.”

“What about me?” Chotti was unwilling to be left out post-break.

“You can finish up your project,” Arnav coughed, “on your own.”

“That’s not fair Daddy.” Chotti protested. “What will you do while we are slaving away?” For once Devansh was in complete agreement with his pest of a sister.

“Excuse me?” A crack of laughter escaped Arnav.

“You heard me Daddy.” Chotti crossed her arms and waited.

Arnav rolled his eyes. “Oh come on! You can decide that during the break while I am slaving away making questions.” He tapped his watch. “Come on! 30 minutes, not a minute less, even if the order arrives,” he warned. “The ice cream cake can melt for all I care.”

The next half-hour flew by as Arnav joined his daughter on the floor after having sought her permission to change his suit. She graciously agreed. “Take a washroom break as well.” She extended his parole.

“Yes Ma’am.”

She grinned cheekily at him before bending over her chart paper.

During the dessert break, ASR labored over the SS chapter, racking his reluctant brains trying to come up with decent questions. While he was otherwise preoccupied, the siblings were in complete harmony, slurping and planning an activity for ASR that would suitably match and more than make up for their slave away time. Arnav couldnt help but feel a twinge of trepidation – all the khusur-phusur not to mention the wicked glances that Chotti sent his way along with Deva’s animated inputs didnt bode too well for his future. Hey Devi Maiyya raksha karna! The thought inadvertently slipped out from his heart.

“Okay break over.” Arnav packed away the decimated cake and other stuff. “Back to work. And no talking,” he warned Chotti, “He’s taking a test. And Angel, you have to give the finishing touches to your project…”

“And we decided that you will also have to do something for us.” Chotti laid down their condition.

“What?” Arnav was seriously regretting his offer. Nothing short of madness!

“Anything.”

“Meaning?” Arnav was taken aback.

“Meaning surprise us. Entertain us.” She waved her hand at the stuff littered on the floor – streamers, sparklers, balloons, colored sheets, glue and what not, “Make something for us. Something we will enjoy.” She threw him a challenge exchanging a look with her partner-in-crime who wore a smug look admixed with superior glee and pity for his beleaguered Dad.

“Well? Go on. What are you waiting for?” Chotti prodded before snickering behind her hand.

“I’m waiting for you guys to begin slaving.” Feeling on safer grounds, ASR remarked.

Chastened, they bent over their respective tasks, shooting curious looks once in a while to Arnav as he stared at the available raw material and tried to come up with something creative and enjoyable – something that he would love doing. When had he done that last? He couldn’t recollect anything apart from getting a rise out of Khushi that is. And now with his kids. He sighed feeling guilty about all the years he had missed spending with them. No wonder Devansh viewed him with suspicion as if he was some alien. He shook his head. He too had been overprotective of his mother and his Di.

Di.

A smile creased his face. He swiftly gathered the things he needed and stuffed them in the oversized pockets of his cargo pants before Chotti’s sharp eyes caught him.

“Okay guys.” He held his palm over this hand to indicate time out. “Carry on with your work while I go into the other room and do something creative worthy of you. And mind you no cheating.” He warned strictly. “I’ll finish…finish my project and come out and check your progress and only then allow you to check it out. Otherwise it’s back to the books.” He looked at Devansh. “Got it?”

Devansh nodded. He had already gone back to his test.

“But Daddy, why do you have to go to another room?” She whined. “Why can’t you do it here?”

“You’ll know when you see.” He said mysteriously.

“Oooh! Tell me now! Please, please Daddy please. Dad….”

“Shush!” Arnav hushed her. “Devansh is giving a test. Remember if he doesn’t do well then even you can’t see what’s in there.”

“What!? Why!?”

But Arnav shook his finger at her and had walked off.

“Da,” Chotti muttered softly, “I hope you know all the questions.”

“Of course I know all the questions!” He waved the sheet of paper and tapped it with his pen. “They are all written here. Buddhoo.” He scoffed.

“Fine! Be that way!” Chotti stuck out her tongue. “When it’s time I’ll tell Daddy…”

“Before you say anything I will tell him that you are disturbing me!” Deva shot back. “Daaad!”

“Shush!!!!” Chotti clapped a hand over his mouth. He glared at her and pushed away her hand. He opened his mouth to call out again.

“Please! Please!” Chotti begged.

“Say sorry.”

“Sorry.”

“Not like that. Hold your ears and do sit ups. Say sorry ten times.”

Chotti had none of Khushi’s hesitation or sense of humiliation. After all Da was right. She was disturbing him and she had no shame in owning up to it or paying for it, while Devansh watched with an unholy gleam in his eye.

“What’s happening here?” One afternoon with the kids and his sixth sense had kicked in. They were silent. Too silent.

Deva bent his head assiduously over his worksheet while Chotti made some elaborate leg extensions swinging her arms up and down. “Angel?” Arnav was hard put to keep the grin off his face.

“Nothing Daddy,” Chotti swore airily, “I was just trying out some dance steps for my dance class next week, 4, 3,2 and 1, 2, 3,” she panted and she switched positions. Arnav’s eyes strayed to Devansh – a tactical blunder as he was watching his Dad’s face with keen interest. Arnav’s expression slipped and instantly a wide grin split Devansh’s face. Arnav turned on his heels and went back to his slavery, all but laughing aloud.

Dad wasn’t so bad after all, Devansh admitted to himself with a warm glow in his heart.

“Wasn’t I clever?” Chotti gloated. “Daddy didn’t get to know anything!”

“Oh didn’t he?” Deva grinned to himself. “Will you please let me work?” He sighed.

Chotti slunk away.

*** to be continued ***

Click here for the final Part VI

 

Arnav Goes to School – IV

Click here for:

Part I

Part II

Part III

berries, blackberries, blueberries
Photo from Pexels

Part IV

“Can I have a choco-lava cake Daddy?”

“I want an ice cream cake, and an apple pie.” Deva too had his list ready. “Oh and a fruit salad sundae.”

“Da! You are such a hog! Daddy if he’s taking all that, then I want a tiramisu too!” She paused. “Three tiramisu,” she counted on her fingers, “Mamma and Nani also like it.” She looked at Arnav. “Maybe one for HPji as well?”

Arnav rolled his eyes. “Okay enough now. Let’s wrap up this extended lunch. I’ll see about,” he shook his finger at them, “ordering your requests, provided you start studying….”

“Studying! Right away after lunch?” Devansh was aghast. “We’ve just come back from studying…”

“So what?” Arnav said hard-heartedly, “Even I have been working since morning…”

“But Daddy,” Chotti slid close to him, “You went to office two hours later than us,” she batted her eyes at him, “and you’re are so much older than us.”

“Exactly.” Arnav’s lips twitched, “if I being so old can work so much, surely you guys with young blood can work much more than I can.” He crossed his arms and waited sure that fresh salvos were on the way.

“Yes of course we can Dad,” Arnav raised his eyebrow at this unexpected support. “But for an all round growth we need to exercise all parts of the body. We already worked out the grey cells, time for the muscles don’t you think?” he wheedled.

“Don’t listen to him Daddy!” Chotti threw herself into the fray, “he played a lot of football. Before school, during break and even after school!” She turned a beleaguered face up to Arnav and said piously, “It’s my grey cells which need a break, besides my dolls are crying for their Mamma…”

“Oh please Chotti,” snapped Guddu, “dolls don’t cry, they aren’t even alive…”

“Says who?” Chotti ran off to get her favorite doll and pulled a string. Instantly the doll set up a racket.

“Ouch!” Both son and dad flinched.

Seeing his opportunity, Devansh appealed to ASR, “Dad I HAVE to practice more. Shubham scored 3 goals while I couldn’t even score one goal.” He drooped.

“Shubham is older than you,” Chotti consoled him, “and,” with her brow darkening, “a meanie. Only meanies can score goals.” She absolved her brother of any such character flaws.

Arnav frowned. “What did Shubham do?”

“Nothing Dad,” Devansh shushed Chotti, “When she was younger, Chotti used to join us as we ran around the field playing football. She would get underfoot, trip and get hurt. That’s why whenever Shubham saw her near the field, he would hold the ball and not let anybody play. So then all of us would gang up and chase her away and ever since then she calls Shubham a meanie.”

“But that was the right thing to do Angel.” ASR shrugged off his coat and tugged at his tie and plopped down on the settee. Surrender was the only way out. Besides he was finally having fun. “He did what he had to do to save you…”

“Exactly what Mamma said – sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind,” intoned Deva.

“I don’t care.” Chotti put her nose in the air. “Shubham is a meanie. Shubham is a meanie. Shubham is a…”

“He is not!” Guddu cried hotly. “He’s the best.”

“He is not.”

He is.”

Not.”

“Is.”

“Is not.”

“Okay!” Arnav played his trump card. “So which dessert should I order and from where?” He took out his mobile and waved it temptingly. Instantly they both lunged for it and fell on top of Arnav, who held away the phone.

The deserted corridors of RM were rent with shrieks and howls and it was a miracle that the living room settee didn’t crash. A rumpled but victorious ASR emerged from the tangle of skinny arms and legs with the phone still in his grip.

“I think I need to order something to drink as well!” Arnav was bright-eyed and flushed.

“Yay! Orange juice!”

“Pineapple for me!”

“Okay okay fine!” Arnav swiftly tapped the order app and gave a rather generous and large order led astray by the range of demands pouring in from over both his shoulders. Besides he couldn’t refuse them anything. He was just here for one day. Khushi could discipline them as much as he liked. But he did have the ‘deal’ to clinch.

“And done!” He pressed the proceed button. “This will take 45 min to an hour to be delivered. So why don’t you finish your respective homework during this period?”

“Okay Daddy,” Chotti gave an angelic smile, “I will do mine and on my own.” She stuck out her tongue at Deva.

Guddu was unfazed. “If I had some stupid drawing homework, even I would have done it by myself. But this is Social studies, I bet you don’t even know what it is…”

“Why can’t you do it on your own?” Arnav cut in hastily as Chotti geared up for another round.

“I study like that only,” Deva said sulkily, “I will read the chapter and you will have to ask questions.”

“Sure,” Arnav nodded. “I’ll be happy to do that.” He smirked to himself as he could see Khushi’s crestfallen face. Now what should he make her do? He wondered. Make her dance? Make her say sorry holding her ears? No! He couldn’t do that to her again. Maybe…

“Dad. Dad!” Deva shook him. “I finished reading,” he held out his book.

“So soon?” Arnav was surprised.

Deva shrugged. “Ask me anything from Chapter 22.”

Chotti returned dragging a rucksack almost twice her size. Ignoring them, she upturned the bag and emptied the contents on the floor. She carefully unrolled a sheet of chart paper and weighted them down. She rifled through her scattered belongings picking and discarding things.

“Dad!”

“Oh yeah!” Arnav tore his eyes from Angel and reluctantly flipped the pages. Social studies had never been his kind of subject. “Chapter 21?”

“No Dad. Chapter 22.” Devansh was busy bouncing a tennis ball.

“This is a long chapter,” Arnav accused, “how could you read it so fast, leave alone memorize?”

“Ask me anything.” Devansh challenged, his entire attention on the lime green ball.

Arnav sighed and focused on studying. Devansh had only skimmed through the pages, relying on his interrogator to fill in the blanks while he played ball. This was how he liked to study and so long as he was studying, absorbing and retaining, Khushi saw no harm in going with the flow.

Not so with Arnav. He didn’t appreciate the spoon-feeding, primarily because it meant double work for him – read the chapter, grasp the essentials, and pick up the ones Devansh missed. And to top it all SS!

Who the hell created SS? He would take great pleasure in doing away with the person for once and for all.

*** to be continued***

Click here for Part V