(I am currently staying with a friend T, in Delhi.)
Dia, T's 6 year old was driving everyone crazy with incessant chatter about her forthcoming 'Camp'. The minute she saw me (after nearly a year), she screamed "Su aunty, I am going to a camp", and proceeded to name a string of places she possibly couldn't see in a day's time and be back home by 8pm! The 'camp' incidentally was a day trip to a farm and a bird sanctuary.
She went on and on about things she had to take to the camp. "Mamma, when are you going to buy my things for the camp?", she asked a zillion times before T read the camp notice and told her that children were not supposed to bring any food. (This is really funny coming from Dia who seems to be on a perpetual hunger strike!).
Soon she was back with "Mamma, when are you going to buy me snacks to take to the camp? I can take snacks, can't I?" and without waiting for an answer, came up with a big list of things to buy - chips, chocolates, cola, toffees and not only for her but for her 4 year old brother as well. His camp was a day later. Finally, someone took her to buy her 'snacks' which she proudly carried around in a plastic bag. This brought T some respite.
Next morning, she came up with a new one. "Mamma which bag shall I take to the camp?" She went on and on. Poor T. Sunday was her only day off from work and she was loathe to rise early. She held Dia off as long as she could with pleas of "in 10 minutes" while Dia danced around alternately shouting 'camp' and 'bag'!
Some one stood on a stool and brought down a variety of bags kept in an cupboard. She rejected each one saying "this one is too small" or "this one is too big" or "not this one, its a suitcase" or "this one's not mine" etc. Finally, she selected the usual back pack she took to school each day and put her precious snacks into it and carried it around.
"Are you excited about the camp", I asked her. (Such stupid questions adults ask). She shrugged her shoulders as if to say its no big deal. And then added sagely "If I don't go, then the 400/- will be wasted and so I must, don't you think?"!!!
Dia had to report at 6am at her school, monday morning. She got up, dressed and drank her milk (a real ordeal for her ma on normal days) in no time and left for the camp.
Tiku, whose camp was on the following day, too was excited about his, but not very vocal about it. He was content to occasionally go through his 'snacks' and try to eat some of it and had to be told that he would have nothing left for the camp.
The house seemed so silent and empty that morning, after Dia had gone to camp, Tiku to school and T, to work. But that silence ended when a tearful Tiku returned from school with tears in his eyes. "Su aunty, (he said in his adorable raspy voice), "Camp cancelled. Teacher said so" and without waiting for my reaction ran to his grandmother and then to the bathroom where his grandfather was taking a bath. He beat his little fists on the door till his grandfather stuck his head out to receive the tragic news.
In his distress, he bacame what he rarely is: extremely quiet. There was little we could do to console him. It was grandfather who finally saved the day by reading the second notice. "It says postponed and not cancelled. It means it will happen later". Tiku smiled, wiped his tears and cycled away madly in celebration, round and round the flat. He would not eat his snacks and agreed only when his grandparents promised to buy him more for his camp!
Dia was picked up at 8pm from her school by T. She was very chirpy but strangely silent about her camp. In between eating and complaining about the itching on her waist, she fell asleep. The tight band of her track suit which she wore all day made her mid riff all itchy. She had blisters on her heels as T discovered when she took off Dia's shoes who was fast asleep by then.
This morning, Dia had a day off. I asked her how the camp went.
"Not good. We went to a farm where we had to sit quietly. Then we went to a bird sanctuary where there were no bird. Then back to school and ma came to take me home", she dissmissed the 72 hours of pre-camp excitement and 14 hours of camp in a couple of sentences!!