Guddu - "Tell me a story."
Munna - "Enough stories Guddu. Go to bed. Today is Wednesday and not Friday. You have to go to school tomorrow. It's already way past your bed time."
Guddu - "No. I will sleep only if you tell me a story."
Munna - "Do you know that rest of the 6 year old kids in this colony listen to their parents and elders?"
Guddu - "Do you know that the rest of the 6 year kids get their share of bed-time stories and then go to bed? Being elder to me by 4 years and with baba not around, you can very well take the responsibility. What say?"
Munna - You almost talk like grown-ups.
Guddu – Don't divert Bhaiyya. Tell no.
Munna - What story do you want? Ramayan? Chacha Chaudhry? Shaktimaan?
Guddu - Tell me about our Mother.
Munna - How many times you want to listen to that? I have told you that like some hundreds of times.
Guddu - So what? I am prepared to listen for another thousand times. Won't you do this for your cute little sister?
Munna - (sighs) What do you want to listen? The story of how she married Baba? Or how she made me wear Baba's old dress which was loose and all baggy? Or how she protected you from the neighbor's kid?
Guddu - Anything you like Bhaiyya. I just want a story.
Munna - Ok. Then here we go. But promise me that you will sleep after listening to this story.
Guddu - Promise. Mother Promise.
Munna - It was 12 years ago when they first met. Baba used to work in Murari kaka's shop and Ma used to live in the nearby colony. She used to come to the shop to buy groceries.
Guddu - Baba liked Ma from the beginning?
Munna - You have asked me this question so many times. Don't you know the answer?
Guddu - I just want to listen it from you Bhaiyya.
Munna - Yeah. Ma was so beautiful. She had the subtle beauty. It was like that of a morning mist transformed into a raindrop hanging on to the petals of the hibiscus flower. She had the smile of angels. Murari Kaka used to say that she was called "Colony's Madhuri Dixit."
Guddu - Do I look as cute as her?
Munna - (pauses) Yes Guddu. You inherited Ma's healing smile and charming personality.
Guddu - So then Baba told her or kept his love to himself?
Munna - Baba was afraid. Ma had not spoken much to him and they used to speak with eye-gestures.
Guddu - And then Baba told her one day.
Munna – Don't rush Guddu. I am getting there (ruffles her hair).
Guddu - I love that part when he screws it up.
Munna - Ok Ok. I will tell that. One day, he decides to tell her and so has "I Love You" written in Hindi in the news paper that Ma comes to receive every day.
Guddu - And the newspaper is taken by Grandma that day. Haa haa haa (starts laughing).
Munna - You know everything. Ok. Let me then go to bed.
Guddu - OK OK. I won't interrupt. You tell it.
Munna – That's better (winks). And then instead of Ma, Grandma comes in and takes the newspaper. Since Baba is not around, the newspaper is handed over to Grandma by Murari Kaka. Its just Baba's good fate that the news paper lands in Ma's hands.
Guddu - And then Grandma comes and shouts at Baba.
Munna – Yeah, but surprisingly Ma is very strong. She has also liked Baba and is very strong about that.
Guddu - And hence, they get married at Vaishno Devi temple. That's why I am named Vaishnavi. (smiles) But why do all of you call me Guddu?
Munna – That's because when Ma saw you for the first time, she said "Gudiya Jaisi dikhti hai" (you look like a doll) and hence we call you Guddu. (Ruffles her hair again)
Guddu - You forgot to tell that those were Ma's last words.
There is an awkward silence between them. Munna being the only one who had seen his mom, he could tell her anything about their Mother and she would believe him. It's not as if she would believe it, but it's because she did not have much choice.
Guddu - Bhaiyya. Can I ask something?
Munna - Yes Guddu.
Guddu - Ma left us in the government hospital after giving birth to me. Baba won't leave us no?
Munna - (hugs Guddu) Don't be stupid Guddu. It's just that Baba is late today. See, now he doesn't work at the shop. He is earning all by himself. It is to give a better life for us. To make us happy and help us study in a bigger school.
Guddu - I am scared Bhaiyya. I don't want to live without you and Baba. (Starts crying)
Munna – Don't cry Guddu. It's ok. Nothing will happen.
Just then, their neighbor Ganpat enters.
Ganpat - Munna. Did you watch the news today? Or say now about 30 mins before?
Munna - No. Raju Bhaiyya has gone out. And we all watch news at his house when he is there. Anything important?
Ganpat - (looks at Munna and Guddu) There was a shooting incident shown on TV.
Munna - (becomes terrified) Where?
Ganpat - (hesitantly) Near CST....where your Baba sells vada paav.
Munna – (gets terrified) What should we do?
Ganpat – It's been like an hour. We should go there and check....if he is there...or not.
Guddu starts crying. Munna fights back his tears.
Munna - Guddu. Promise me something. Don't cry. Nothing must have happened to our Baba.
Guddu - (wails loudly) I am scared Bhaiyya. I don't want to be here.
Munna – Don't worry. It will be all right. It will be all right. (pauses) Lets go Ganpat Bhaiyya.
Munna carries Guddu to Ganpat's house. In the TV news, flash news runs about the Taj Hotel bombing and a reporter is running helter shelter. CST Gunfire incident runs in the scroll below. The Common Man is not even bothered to be covered and the whole incident is hyped as if Page-3 celebrities and socialites are the only ones running the country. The cruel fact is that we live in a society which suffers from 'Chalta hai' attitude. The Common man is the spot of limelight only during the elections, otherwise for which he can die in train blasts, bomb-blasts, caste or state riots, landslides, accidents, lack of medical attention….which is pretty much to say is not a NATURAL CAUSE OF DEATH. At the end of the day or a week later, when this incident is buried amidst a new scandal or blasts, we celebrate and hail the 'Spirit of Mumbai'. Hypocrisy at its best!!!!!!!!
Munna watches the news and walks with Ganpat in search of his father. He is not sure if while returning, will he walk with him or will be carrying him on his shoulders….in pieces. He walks with lots of questions, lots of prayers, lots of anger…….and very little hope.