One More, Perhaps
The phone rang once. Twice. Thrice.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hello, Beta,” said chhotte baba.
“Namaste Baba,” I said twirling my hair.
“What happened?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I said. “I was just calling. What’s going on, Baba?”
Chhotte Baba laughed. He was always very touched every time I did this, even thought I’d been doing it so regularly. It took little to please the people you loved, I’d realised now that I was older. Even Daadi ma – whom I called much more regularly, still loved it when I did it.
“Nothing, Beta,” he said easily. “You tell me. How are studies.”
“Happening, Baba,” I groaned. “We’re doing the Romantics this year.”
Ever since Baba died, I’d made it a point to call Chhotte Baba more. Part of it was how fond of him I was. Chhotte Baba was the only other person who sort of remembered my Lucknow days with Baba, too. Well, him, my sister, My Mum, and Daadi ma. I couldn’t talk to Daadi ma about them, since she missed Baba. Mum didn’t care for Lucknow – and Maanvi (my sister, that is), had moved on from Lucknow.
“Accha,” said Baba. “And what else?”
“Are you reading anything interesting, Baba?” I asked. This was my favourite part of the conversation. Chhotte Baba loved books as much as I did. He was the reason I was able to get my hands on half the books I did. If it wasn’t for him, I would never have read The Source. The Source was the bond between us – we loved that book intensely. And I didn’t always agree with Chhotte Baba’s taste (Wilbur Smith is not that great), but I loved some of the stuff he recommended.
“I’m just reading old books, right now,” he said. “Some Christie. I have something new by Clive Cussler.”
“What genre?” I asked, interestedly.
“Thriller,” he said. “But he’s not half as good as Ludlum.”
“I know,” I sighed. “But is anything, these days? And don’t say Dan Brown. Dan Brown is terrible.”
Baba laughed. “I haven’t read that much of Dan Brown.”
“Good,” I said firmly. “You shouldn’t.”
“When are you coming to Lucknow?” asked Chhotte Baba.