One fine morning, I heard Pickle say to Papad, ''Lesh play Mama-Daddy''
''Okay'' said Papad. I was amused to hear of this game and waited to see what they would do.
Papad then picked up his sister's Mickey Mouse bag and said to Pickle ''Honey, it's 5 o'clock! I'm GOING.'' And then marched out of the room.
I laughed as I told Vijay about this, saying that I have no idea where they got that from. My attention then moved to other things - the kids had been unwell for a while, especially little Papad who had a bad cough. It so happened that this was a day that Vijay had a holiday, so I made a call to the Pediatrician.
'You can have appointment at 11 o'clock' said the depressed sounding voice of the receptionist.
I looked at the time - it was 10.15 a.m. 'Can't we make it 11.30?'
'No.' said the receptionist decidedly.
'Fine.' I said. 'Please book me in for 11 a.m.'
I told Vijay to get ready so that we could take little coughing Papad for a check up - it had been quite a few days and now that we had this unexpected slot, we should definitely make use of it. Vijay agreed wholeheartedly and then proceeded to ignore me for the next twenty minutes and read the newspaper. Fuming, I got ready and asked our help Rinki to get Papad ready too.
'Papal kahan jaayega?'
'Doctor paas, Pickle.'
'MAIN BHI JAOONGA!'
I gazed at my tantrumming son. What was with this fascination for going out, even if it were a visit to the doctor. 'But you're alright, beta. Papad is the one who...'
He came charging at me with his head lowered like a raging bull and caught me just above the knee. I gritted my teeth and told Vijay, 'You manage him now.'
'Arrey, I'm coming with you.'
'Honey. It's 11 o'clock. I'm going!' With that, I flounced out of the house, picking up little Papad on the way.
'You see where they get it from?' called Vijay 'At least take his shoes!'
In about 15 minutes, Papad and I had reached the doctor's office. Vijay had called and tried to stop me, saying that we should just take Pickle as well. I refused, saying I had only taken an appointment for one kid and besides, we were already late. Vijay had tried using his random logic 'You're anyway not going to make it on time - what's another few minutes.' I hung up on him after telling him that if he wanted, he could drive Pickle and Peanut over too, but the Priority was to get Papad to the Pediatrician as Promised.
Vijay and I often disagree on this. I'm a stickler for being on time and he's a lot more easy going. Sometimes I think he's being deliberately maddening, but this time, I had determined I would do things my way. So little Papad and I walked into the pediatrician's office - to find it completely empty.
The receptionist really could have given me a later time, I realized. There were hardly any patients around today since it was just after Diwali. Whatever. The friendly and efficient doctor made her appearance and gave Papad a thorough checkup. Within about seven minutes, the door opened and Vijay, Rinki, Peanut and a very irritated Pickle made their appearance too.
'Wheezing.' murmured the doctor as she examined Papad. We discussed his treatment and then the conversation turned to the Flu vaccinations. I explained that it had been a year and she gave me an explanation about this year's strains or something else that I pretended to understand.
Since Vijay was here, I thought I'd discuss with him the possibility of just getting all the kids their flu vaccinations on this visit. How unfair on them, though, I said to him - they came here unprepared and just expecting a joyride and to play in the doc's waiting room and now they're going to get jabs.
Yeah, he said. So? Let's do it. He was clearly as fed up with the relapses as I was.
About fifteen minutes later, there was still so much screaming that you would have thought there were about seventeen distraught families in that waiting room instead of just one. To add to all of that chaos, Vijay and I had both decided on the spur-of-the-moment to get our jabs too. I had half-jokingly asked the doctor if she could do ours too, but she agreed without batting an eyelid. We had all been sick and reinfecting each other, so the two of us merrily got our shots.
Vijay then said 'What about Rinki?'
'What about her?'
'She should get vaccinated too. I heard her cough this morning.'
'What?' asked Vijay.
'You know how she feels about injections!'
Vijay did know. Rinki acted all sympathetic when it came to the kid's injections but she was in reality terrified of injections herself. 'Well, never mind, she'll just have to have them.' he said virtuously 'it's good for her, anyway. She won't fall sick!'
'Well,' said the doctor 'there's no guarantee...'
'Rinki!' Vijay was already calling her. He informed her of the impending injection, while she listened in growing horror and then politely declined.
When Vijay wants, he can be very stubborn and convincing. Rinki walked in trembling into the doctor's office. The kids were now curious enough to have stopped crying, and they followed and crowded around the door, watching.
Rinki put on a brave face, but as soon as the needle was plunged in, she let out a wail that would have not been out of place in a Tom & Jerry cartoon, kind of like when Tom's tail gets cut off with an axe or something. I thought this would only upset the children further, but they appeared to think it was the funniest thing that they had ever seen - they almost fell down laughing, pointing at Rinki and even clapping in delight. It was the best end to a doctor's visit EVER, and there was much happiness and merriment all around, except for poor Rinki - but she soon recovered too and was as amused at the rest of us by the children's evident joy. Too late I realized that if the kids had seen me and Vijay getting our shots, we might have avoided several minutes of crying. Next time, I determined, we wouldn't miss the opportunity to get needles poked into us in full sight of our darling, strangely sadistic little kids.
For now, the ordeal is over - and for some days, all of us proudly sported those little square band-aids, the way one would wear their battle scars.
Strange we may be, but now you may please bring the winter season ON. We're ready!