The kids went berserk that morning. They could not handle them. A verbal duel ensued. They exchanged hot words, and finally he left in his car. Unfortunately, there was no Muhammad Rafi to sing mein yeh soach kar uskay dar sey utha tha, ki woh roak laygee mana laygee mujhko. He glanced back to take last look at her and the kids, but nobody responded. He slammed the door behind him.
Now he was on his own. Driving in a small city brings no thrill. He turned on the FM radio. It played a song that he and his wife (whom he had left behind) would listen to very often when they dreamed of a happy married life. He was tempted to call her, but restrained himself with great difficulty.
He was badly hurt this time. He had never expected his wife to behave like a fishmonger. What had happened to the Cinderella in her? He would call her Senorita, Dream Girl, Chocolate, Rose, but today she had turned out to be a gobhi ka phool.
The song jil mil sitaroon ka aangan hoga, rim jhim barasta sawan hoga did not do the needful today. It did not soothe his mind. He lit a cigarette. Before he could exhale, his cell phone rang. It was his wife. He expected her to apologize. Smiling, he said a soft hello.
“dekho agar aap ko ghar aaney ka mood ho tou aatay waqt apnay saath doodh ka ek packet bhi lana,” she said. (If you are in the mood to come home, get a packet of milk along)
Now, this was too much. She should have apologized, and tried to calm him. But she was more concerned about the milk.
This hurt deeper.
“I will never go back,” he said to himself, and headed straight for the filling station.
“Fill the tank,” he shot. He wanted to go for a long drive.
He was on the highway, lighting one cigarette after another. The smoke curling from his nostrils reminded Sheru of a railway engine. Suddenly, the engine went silent. He tried his best to restart the car, but failed.
A mechanic told him the timing belt was damaged, and the vehicle would not start unless given a new one. He left the car with him. It was getting dark. He saw a cab coming from the opposite direction, and boarded it. He got off half-a-kilometer from home. He looked up and down the road. There were a few packets of milk left at the general store. He picked up one, and walked towards his house. His wife opened the door. He ignored her scornful look and went straight to the kids. The younger one smiled and the elder winked at him. He burst into laughter. A few minutes later, his wife brought him a cup of tea.
`Let us go out for a drive,’ she suggested. The kids, too, insisted. He could not say no. He hired a taxi and had to do a lot of explaining to his wife. The tu tu, mein mein started all over again. But this time he was lucky to have the cab driver’s support.
`Will you please keep quiet,’ he roared. The vehemence stunned her into silence. He saw her biting her lips.