“Awwweeee, he’s so cute!!!” cried out 5-year old Amaaya in her typical sing-song manner. “Nonsense,” her older, but definitely not wiser brother Amey mocked her, “It is just a soft toy, you find everything cute because you are just a kid.”
On paper, Amey was born just two years before Amaaya, but they were as different as Tofu and Paneer. She was gentle, kind, and filled with wonder about everything around her, while he seemed to be stuck in a permanent Godzilla mode, destroying everything that happened to come in his path.
This was their first time at our home, for their parents, our long-lost friends, had just shifted back to India from Timbuktoo, where they had been working at various excavation sites for the past ten years
While we were busy drinking and reminiscing about the good old days in the living room, the kids were busy with excavations of their own in the rest of the house, with Amaaya digging for things that she could play with, and Amey exploring for stuff he could demolish.
And it was thus that they had both simultaneously landed in front of our bookcase.
“Maybe we should ask Uncle-Aunty if we can open it?” suggested Amaaya meekly. “You will forever remain a child only,” Amey chided her, “They told us to enjoy ourselves na? So that is exactly what I intend to do. You may join in if you want, or get out of my way.”
So saying, he shoved her aside, opened the glass door of the bookcase, and put his hand inside to take out some colourful books from the shelf on which the ‘Awweeee, he’s so cute” toy was sitting.
Amey grabbed a fistful of books, and roughly started pulling them out. But he was surprised to find that they seemed to be getting stuck somewhere. So he pulled harder, not worried at all about what it would do to the books, when suddenly, there was a tearing sound…..and Amey cried out in pain!
He quickly pulled out his hand, leaving the books where they were, and saw….that he had no hand! It had remained inside the bookshelf, still holding on to the books that he had grabbed. And as he looked on in horror, the harmless looking stuffed toy had turned into a full-fledged, real-life monster, and was calmly chewing on his now detached hand.
Copious quantities of tears were now flowing freely from Amey’s eyes, and he was delirious with pain. His life was over now, he would never be able to become a cricketer with only one hand. “And One Tip One Hand is not even a recognized sport,” came the unbidden thought in his head, and he started howling even louder. But we were busy with our fun and laughter, and loud music was playing in the background, so we were still unaware of everything.
And it was then that little Amaaya walked up hesitatingly to the monster, and said, “Cute monster, can you please return my brother’s hand? I promise you he will never misbehave from now on.”
The monster stopped chewing on Amey’s hand, and looked at Amey with one raised eyebrow, as if asking for confirmation. Amey nodded so hard that he got a catch in his neck.
And half an hour later, when we came out of the room to get dinner ready, we were surprised to see Amey and Amaaya sitting quietly on the sofa, reading a book together. “So, did you face any trouble finding a book of your choice?” I asked the kids.
“Absolutely not Uncle,” replied Amaaya in her sing-song voice, “The cute little book monster lent us a hand!”