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I don't understand. It’s a very unusual day coz I normally understands everything around me. It's not like I'm a small kid anymore. I am 10 and the tallest in my class. I'm all grown up. My aunt even calls me the big guy nowadays. I kind of like it when she calls me that.

But today has been a very strange day. A lot of people have been coming to our home since morning, people I haven't seen at all. Most claim to be my uncle or a distant relative. The whole house is filled by them and I hate it. There are people sitting in my room too. Well it’ll be our room when he comes, my little brother. I don’t want the room to be a mess. What if he doesn’t like it? I like my room clean and I guess he’ll too, so I can’t allow people to sit here and spoil it. Worse, they have already removed my collection of toys to make room for more of them. I decided to complain about this to grandma. She will understand, she always did. She’s my best friend and partner in every mischief I did. She doesn’t have a lot of teeth. She lost it because she ate too many sweets. She was sitting at the corner of the veranda, looking at the people around. I went and whispered in her ears so that nobody will hear me

“Ammi, can we ask them to leave. They are all over my room and I don’t like it” she turned and looked at me. Her eyes were red probably out of crying. She hugged me tight.

“Everything will be fine” and she returned to her corner staring outside the gate

I decided to rest the topic. Anyway they will leave by night. And I don’t want anyone to tell my brother that I was rude to people. I have to be the ideal and nice person he can look up to. I went to my mom’s room and laid on the bed. This was the only room they haven’t encroached. I could see the beautiful cradle that dad bought a month ago. It had pictures of all the animals on it – elephant, swan, tiger, fox etc all in colourful and funny looking outfits. I’m sure he’ll love it.

I must have slept for a long time. It was almost evening when I woke up. When i opened my eyes, my mom was there sleeping opposite me with her arms around me. She looked older and her stomach seems to be back to normal.

“Don’t wake her up. She needs to rest” I didn’t noticed Susheela aunty sitting on the chair behind me. She’s the best aunt anyone can ask for. She brings me toys and chocolates whenever she visits our home. Technically she is my mother’s elder sister and 2 years older than her. Whenever my mother accuses her off spoiling me, she gives me smiling look and says ”you will be behave yourself, won’t you big guy?” and I gives her a big nod with my head literally shaking from top to bottom.

“Okay. Can i get something to eat. I’m hungry”. She took a small packet of biscuit from her bag and hands it to me. I start munching on it. By the way, there is a big secret that they don’t know. Ma and aunt don’t allow grandma to have chocolates but whenever I get some chocolates I share it with her. Ma said that grandma lost all her teeth eating chocolates. But If grandma had already lost her teeth what wrong can her eating chocolates do now?

“Where is Dad? Is my brother coming today?” her faced turned pale and livid “You are big boy now and you have to be strong for your dad okay”. I don’t understand her. My dad is already very strong. He can lift me up and throw me in the air till I tire myself laughing. It gives me a tickling sensation at the stomach when he throws me up.

I walked outside and I could see a swarm of people crowding around at the veranda. It’s like flies on a piece of shit. They come in groups and leave while the next group comes. I saw my father standing at the front. Everyone coming is having a serious talk with, some are even hugging him. He just stands there cold still doing this without any change in the expression. I haven’t seen him so serious. He always had a smile which makes me kiss him on the cheeks when he drops me at the school. I then noticed that the piece being swarmed was a huge steel box with glass on top. People were looking inside and whispering something to each other and make way for the rest to do the same. I walked to it. It got cold around when I reached near it. It was tall and I had to stand on my toes to peep into it. In all the mist inside, i saw something covered in white cloths, something small. I don’t know what’s so interesting about it and why all the people are here to look at it. I got bored and walked towards the corner where grandma was there. She was in the same place resting against the wall as I last saw her. It seemed like she haven’t moved at all.

“Will he be coming today? I thought he will be coming back with mom” i looked at her ancient wrinkled face waiting for an answer. I think i saw tiny droplets of tear trickling down before she managed to speak “he will not be coming. He is where grandpa is, with the god”

“Why, doesn’t he want to be with us? Haven’t mom told him about all the toys i kept for him?”

“it’s just that sometimes god wants the most loved people to be with him” selfish god I thought. Now I’m very sad. He’ll probably never come back to us. I haven’t seen my grandpa except in photos. Mom told me that he was with god. I think god is so selfish. He never lets grandpa visit us and now I’m terrified that it’ll happen the same to my brother too. I haven’t seen him but i have heard him in my mother’s stomach. I talked to him a lot. He doesn’t reply to me much but makes noise from inside. Probably he is more of a listener or it’s difficult to speak inside someone’s stomach. I was hoping that we could play together once he comes out. Now it seems that god also wanted him. It’s so selfish of him. It’s my brother not his and how can he take my brother without my permission. Is that why dad is sad? But my mother had said that god will listen and help me if I be a good boy. I know I have eaten chocolates without mom knowing and lied about it to her. I swear I’ll be good. I’ll not lie anymore. Please return my brother. He needs me just as I need him. I haven’t even taught him how to hold the bat or run fast as I do. God please return him. Please, I’ll not be bad..

In the background, the cradle stays still unoccupied..

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