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Papa needs a Daughter

A Short Story by Krishna Chaitanya

Cold. Bob wasn't cold. Was the winter. Alarm snoozed thrice. But every time it snoozed, Bob flung his arm out of the blanket, grabbed it and stopped it; and returned to his initial position within the coverlet that had been providing warmth all through the night. He supposed the sun too might've been concealed behind a chunky cloud shielding itself from the biting wintry, as he did himself in the wake of a bulky bedspread. After all, he listened his Granny muttering now and then--England would be much colder than where he was living now--India. 

It's the first Christmas coming this week in Independent India, and he knew pretty well there were very little of them of the minor community living in here. And his mamma promised him that he would never be parted from this part of the world. Bob was thirteen, and his father Louis Churchill was an English teacher in their own school, who was the son of a famous retired Lieutenant General in British India. They had settled in India since his father had been working here, and Louis himself was a young boy when he came here. He used to visit England during Christmas every year. But since Bob had born they had been celebrating Christmas in India itself. Bob adored this place very much and never he went out of the sub-continent. 

'Wake up, dear!' cried Mrs. Churchill for a fifteenth time. Didn't he stir?

'Wake up, Bob!' exclaimed Mr. Churchill, a twentieth time. Not stir, yet.

Notwithstanding, none cried out for him, he woke up himself, all in a sudden, ran into the balcony and peeked through the windowsill where a sparrow was resting on the tree which rooted adjacent to the ledge. For the twitter of the little sparrow waked up the young boy. Hardly he found birds uptown where their house was constructed. And he adored those birds as much as he loved his family.

'The birds,' he said to himself, 'do they too behave like humans?' He wasn't sure. His thoughts were so since he observed bizarre deeds in his Papa.

Bob discovered his beloved father trembling, for something veiled behind the curtains of his compassion. When Bob inquired, 'Why?' 'Nothing!' was what Papa returned as gravely as sometimes he did with that exceeding prominence on the syllables, though, not much needed.

Bob observed Papa, himself had just been entered into teenage, of a splitting character or if not wrong--one character split up to various tones. Bob thought--it would have split up between the dilemma of thoughts. Yes, he was true. Sensible was young Bob, for his little grey cells worked fine hither and thither, notwithstanding little of his age--his little age.

'Papa, Oh! dear Papa!' exclaimed the young boy merrily as if had sung the opening stanza of a verse, 'why, so worried you?'

Gazed the man of a dilemma, down his nose-- prickled, at his young boy, who was staring at him through his glasses, and his face--exclaimed. 'Nothing!' returned the Papa, rather humbly, unlike the one he had earlier.

'A business that bothers you, dear Papa!' repeated the young boy, still smiling merrily, 'what on earth it does to you?'

'Nothing!' cried Papa in the former tone.

Bob not contented, for he alleged, that Papa might've thought him as quite juvenile to comprehend even if he had said what's bothering him. So the young boy had nosed round, whenever his Papa had any conversation with someone in the house.

One day Bob overheard his Papa speaking to mom.

'A stone was more active than you these days, dear!' cried Mrs. Churchill. 'What's the matter?'

'Nothing!' Mr. Churchill returned hastily.

'Ah! I wasn't little Bob. I could comprehend the business that bothers you.'

Rage flared up in the mind of sneaking Bob. 'What would be such a complicated business that I couldn't comprehend?' he thought.

'Nothing!' Mr. Churchill said humbly, 'Nothing!'

'Why, so what's that you are pondering all through the day long?'

'Nothing, darling!' Mr. Churchill returned the same one-word answer except that he added after a big pause, 'purely a father's business it's!'

'Why, dear!' astonished Mrs. Churchill, 'What do you mean by that--a father's business?'

'Nothing!'

Now a rage flared up in Mrs. Churchill for that irritating repeated one-word answer. Indeed, was the same to the eavesdropping Bob.

Days had passed. Again one day, 'What's the matter, Louis?' inquired Bob's Granny to Mr. Churchill. Bob was snooping at his bedroom door; Mrs. Churchill, spying, from the kitchen.

'Nothing! mamma,' but returned Mr. Churchill coolly.

'Why, Louis,' cried the Granny, ' those dark spots underneath your eyes!' She paused and went on, 'For you haven't been sleeping well! What's the matter?'

'Nothing, mamma!'

'I wasn't either little Bob or that half-minded Sophie,' said the Granny staring at her perplexed son through her pince-nez. 'I could comprehend the business that worries you, and surely would suggest towards a conclusion. What's the matter?'

Bob chuckled for how Granny considered his mom--half-minded. For which an anger lit up in Mrs. Churchill's mind. She thought of yelling but didn't. Both of them, separately, eavesdropping and eagerly waiting if Mr. Churchill would tell something to Granny. But the answer was obvious, 'Nothing, mamma!'

'Precisement,' exclaimed a man stood at the front door and overheard the tête-à-tête before he knocked on the door.

Knock-knock. Louis opened the door and surprised to see the Wiseman of the Town after a long time.

'Hey! Wiseman,' excited Mr. Churchill, 'Why, you have been disappeared all through these vague years!'

'Ha ha. That's all had to be. But I think I'm at the right time,' returned the Wiseman merrily. 'I was home last night and came now to see you.'

'Good heavens, Wiseman!' exclaimed Mr. Churchill, excitedly, 'take a couch.'

The Wiseman smiled and sunk in the couch. Mr. Churchill was standing. A lull for a moment. Resumed Mr. Churchill, 'Any drink Wiseman?'

'Non-alcoholic, please!'

'Yes, Wiseman. India.'

'India. Yes. India.'

Mr.Churchill clapped his hands, and a manservant appeared. 'One soft drink,' said he to the manservant and turned towards the Wiseman and added, 'Orange, sir?'

'Orange. Yes. Orange.'

The manservant disappeared. Again a moment's lull. The manservant appeared with a glass of orange juice.

'Please, Wiseman!' resumed Mr. Churchill handing over the glass. The Wiseman grabbed and drank it all in one sip.

'Thirsty?' inquired Mr. Churchill.

'Thirsty. Yes. Thirsty.'

'Another drink, sir?'

'Another drink. Yes. Another drink.'

The manservant brought another drink but of grape flavour. The Wiseman, afresh, drank it in one sip.

'Another, sir?'

'Another. Yes. Another.'

It went on until the Wiseman drank a dozen flavours of drinks.

'Good, Wiseman!'

'Good. Yes. Good.'

Anew a moment's lull.

'Should I ask you,' resumed the Wiseman, 'or will you tell me, yourself?'

'Yes, Wiseman?'

'What's the matter?'

While the Wiseman asked the curious question that had been haunting the house for a fortnight, eavesdropping--Bob at the bedroom door, Mrs. Churchill at the kitchen door, Granny at the drawing-room door--all listening deliberately as if they're going to discover where a goldmine had been buried.

'Something could I ask you, Wiseman,' returned Mr. Churchill, with his lips twitched, 'for you're the Wiseman!'

'Yes?'

'I've two friends of mine,' started Mr. Churchill, 'both are a good fifteen years elders to me.' Paused Mr. Churchill.

'Go on...'

The short story continues here..

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