Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dad's Cup of Tea


In today's story, the older siblings, Sagar and Sapna are replaced by their mother and the father, in the role of Akbar and Birbal. A phrase, "Bibal ki khichadi" is used in Hindi, when a person tries to do something that is physically impossible. 

In an Akbar-Birbal story, Birbal tried the impossible feat of cooking rice and beans (called Khichdi in Hindi) with the help of the heat from the lights from Akbar's palace across a river.


                                                                Dad’s Cup of Tea

The six-year-old twins, Suchi and Soori sat at the two little wooden desks in the opposite corners of their kitchen.
Pushing the dark hair away from her face, Suchi focused on her artwork; Soori wriggled her toes as she looked at her own paper.
Their Mom worked at a counter nearby. Her concentration broke when Suchi’s shriek practically shattered the kitchen window.
“M-------om, Soori is looking at my picture again.”
Soori raised her head, and narrowed her eyes, “Don’t you scream at me, I can’t even see your face from here. You are the one who’s peeking at my work.”
Mom left her work and stood between the two. Hands on her waist, she said, “Well, I think now is the time to invite Emperor Akbar and Birbal into our kitchen.”
Suchi pouted, “Why do you and Dad always bring in some Indian story when we fight?”
Smiling, Mom went back to the counter and picked up an empty salad bowl.
She put it on her head, “Quiet in my court. Young lady, you better respect the crown.” She tapped the bowl.
Soori clapped, “We get an Akbar story. Hey, Mighty Emperor, will you also have Birbal in your court?"
Mom-Akbar said, “Hush----little girl, we hear Birbal pulling his cart-without-horses into the royal stables.”
Dad entered the kitchen with his car keys in one hand and a briefcase in the other.
“Birbal, we need your wisdom to solve the entanglement between these two girls.” Mom-Akbar adjusted her bowl-crown.
Dad put away the things in his hands and bowed. “Your Majesty, I’m at your service.”
Suchi clung on to Dad’s legs, “Dad, please, tell Mom to stop. I hate Akbar stories.”
Dad-Birbal whispered, “Shhh---little girl, you don’t want to upset the Emperor.”
Suchi stomped her feet and went back to her chair.
Mom-Akbar roared, “No speaking in the court unless spoken to. Birbal, these two girls do not wish to show their artwork to each other. One girl thinks that the other is peeking at her work.”
Dad-Birbal bowed to Mom, the Emperor, and looked at the two pictures.
He bowed to Mom-Emperor again.  “Pardon me, Your Majesty. I need to start the heating process for my tea by turning on a lantern in the den.”
He walked to the den and turned on the brightest lamp.
Mom-Emperor said, “Birbal, stop fooling with the lanterns. I order you to help me solve this great difficulty that has fallen on my two subjects.”
Dad-Birbal said, “I beg your pardon, sire, my wife is busy playing Emperor Akbar. So I must make the tea myself.”
Mom-Akbar frowned, “My dear man, we have a crisis at our hands, this is no time for tea.”
Dad-Birbal bowed again, “Sire, I beg your pardon, It’ll be quick. I will put the lantern on high-heat in the den, and its heat will boil the water for my tea in the kitchen.”
Soori pulled at Dad’s pants, “Dad, how can the hot lamp in the den make your tea in the kitchen?”
Mom-Akbar said, “Birbal, we do not understand your actions.”
Dad-Birbal bowed, “Your Majesty, if a person can see art from ten feet away, the lantern can certainly boil the water for tea from twenty feet away.”
Mom-Akbar said, “Ho, Ho, Ho, Birbal, we understand. The hot lantern twenty feet away can make your tea, if ---”
Suchi interrupted. “Yeah, yeah, I get it too. Dad can’t make tea with the hot lamp twenty feet away and Soori can’t peek at my picture from ten feet.
Soori ran to Dad. She hugged him. “Dad, you are the smartest Birbal I ever met.”
Suchi crinkled her nose and plopped down on her little chair.
Mom sat up straight on the bar stool, and took off her salad-bowl-crown. “Aah, I must tell the Queen to wash this crown before serving salad at her dinner-party this evening.”
Suchi and Soori went back to their art.
Dad said “I guess, I’ll have to make the tea myself.”

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

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