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Twinkle's Behavior

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“…that’s when Harry did something both very stupid and very brave” I was about to find out what Harry did when two strands of my mother’s hair flew in and settled on the page of ‘Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone’ I was reading.“Ma!” I cried, “Go comb your hair somewhere else, na! The fan is blowing the strands in my book.” She gave me her signature dirty look and retorted, “You can read your stupid book later. Go and get ready now.” I was halfway out of my parents’ room when she shouted again, “and tell your sister to get dressed soon!”
This was the scenario every time we went to a wedding. Hair flying everywhere, a scramble to look for earrings and of course, Ma’s incessant shouting. I went into my room and found my 5 year old sister sitting on my bed. She was busy colouring something. I looked closer and found that her canvas of choice was the invitation of the wedding we were getting ready for. I snatched it out of her hand and said, “Will you do something else then bothering me, for a change? Get dressed, Twinkle. Ma said that we have to leave in 20 minutes.” She gave me a look so reminiscent of the one our mother was infamous for and walked out of the room with her nose in the air. Twinkle is seven years younger and very different from me. She was always shouting and making a racket wherever she went. I preferred a quieter ambiance. She was always the favourite in every gathering whereas; my-friend circle hardly went beyond Kafka and J.K. Rowling. I sighed at our differences and looked for the maroon salwar-kameez I got for Diwali last year.
Five minutes later, I emerged from my room clad in the said clothing, ‘Harry Potter’ in hand and went to my parents’ room again. This time, Dad and Twinkle were also present. Ma had finished combing her hair and was perching it on top of her head elegantly. “…also, March-ending is going on so, it is more and more difficult to get a holiday. I think it will be better if you go to the bank.” Dad was saying. Ma, still looking on the dressing table mirror, answered “Twinkle’s Parent Teacher Meet is tomorrow. We’ll just have to make this installment a bit later. It won’t work, otherwise.”. “What won’t work, Papa?” Twinkle piped up. Dad picked her up and said, “Mommy took some money from the bank and now she won’t be able to return it tomorrow.” Twinkle looked into Dad’s eyes for some time and suddenly ran out of the room. We all looked at her little thundering footsteps tearing out of the room in slight shock. Then Ma shook her head and said to Dad, “She’s becoming more and more ill-mannered, dei! Yesterday, the maid slipped on the phenyl-water and fell down and she was rolling on the floor, laughing. How can she be so unkind? The maid sprained her ankle, you know.” Our father rubbed his glasses on the end of his sleeve and said, “She’s very young now, Sunita. There is a lot of time.” My mother didn’t look entirely convinced but, she went back to her mirror. It was Halloween in Harry Potter’s world when my mother finally announced that we should head for the car. I closed my book and followed them out of the room.
We went to my room to get Twinkle when a strange sight greeted us. Twinkle was sitting on my bed, sobbing and clutching her favourite pink tiara. “What happened?” Dad asked in a shocked voice. We hurried to her and sat around her. Dad locked her in his arms and repeated his question. She looked up with her tear-streaked face which looked sticky in places and said, “I’m sad because, Mommy and Papa don’t have money.” And she gave another humongous wail and collapsed into Dad’s arms. We all looked at each other with bewildered faces. “But,” she hiccoughed and spoke again “You can sell my tiara and we’ll still have money and you don’t have to be sad. If… if you sell my tiara, the bank people will not beat you.” My parents’ faces were reflecting the comprehension dawning on me. She had heard our parents’ conversation and in her over actively imaginative and developing brain, she formed the idea that if the money was not returned immediately to the bank, we were to be emptied of all our possessions. I felt a strong desire to laugh and also a stab of tenderness towards my little sister. I was waiting for our father to react when Ma kneeled in front of her, took her face in her hands and softly said, “Nobody is making Mommy and Papa sad, Twinkle. The bank will give us more time to return the money. There is still a lot of time.” She hugged Twinkle and repeated “There is a lot of time.” more to herself than to Twinkle. It took 15 more minutes to calm her down and then we headed for the wedding. For the rest of the evening, Ma didn’t mention Twinkle’s behavior again.




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