And so it came to pass that I was standing, hapless and helpless, before the salesman at one of the plushest toy stores in one of the plushest malls in the plush capital city of the country, millimetres away from grovelling before him.
“Are you sure you don’t have it?” I asked him, hating the whine in my voice. “Not even one?” I felt a sweat breaking across my forehead, and a tremble begin to infiltrate my spinal cord. I was 3 hours away from catching the flight back home after a week away. There was the infamous Delhi traffic to contend with, and I had left myself no slack to go hunting in other stores to find the specific object that The Brat had put down as mandatory to be presented to him upon my return, contingent on good behaviour in my absence, of course.
It was a terrifying moment. I could feel the quiver set in my knees at the prospect of facing The Brat empty-handed because I hadn’t managed to procure the exact same model of the toy he had demanded. I called up home, he was asleep, the receiver put to a sleep-groggy ear. I asked him if there was something else he would like. He mumbled something incoherent and went back to sleep, I am told.
I thought back to the moment, a couple of weeks ago, when I told him I would be gone for a week. He looked at me with eyes that were pretending to be very brave and unconcerned, it wouldn’t do for him to crumple and fling his arms around my waist and bury his head in my lap, and tell me not to go. That is not what big boys do. They still the quivering of their lips and blink back the sudden rush of tears that threaten to flood their eyes, and ask, in a deceptively nonchalant manner whether it is really essential for me to go off for so many days and why do I need constantly to keep going away.
“But I will come back,” I tell him. “I always come back.”
“I know you do. But it is boreding without you.”
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