‘I wish my sister didn’t exist,’ seven-year old Manav says. His sibling has joined school and is “telling everybody his secrets.”
He doesn’t want to elaborate on what those are.
‘What about your sister Armaan?’ I ask the little boy sitting beside Manav, as I drive them to a birthday party.
‘She’s mean to me,’ he says casually.
‘Your sister really is mean to you,’ Rehan leans over in sympathy.
‘And your sister Rehan?’ I ask, trying to hide my amusement at all the wicked sisters littering the world.
‘She is…mean sometimes,’ he concedes, not wanting to be the odd one out.
Manav is on about how Leena told everyone his ‘worst’ secret – he flashes a wicked smile at Armaan, his arch-enemy cum best friend rolled into one.
‘When you kissed a girl in Prep,’ Armaan chortles, right on cue. Rehan giggles and Manav is thrilled with all the attention.
I focus on a big blue bus behind me, as it tries to not-so-subtly push me off the road.
Shouts of ‘Aunty, he’s choking me! Leave me!’ suddenly break through.
‘Behave boys! Why are you fighting?’
I look at them through the rear-view mirror. Manav and Armaan are trying to strangle each other.
‘Stop it!’ I shout, driving through a red light and praying the cops don’t stop me.
‘Why are you fighting now?’
‘He says he will kill my sister!’ Manav sits up and announces indignantly.
‘And he says he will kill mine!’ Armaan is red in the face.
Rehan looks on peacefully. His sister has not been mentioned so far, so he’s ok.
It’s time to change the topic. Name, Place, Animal, Thing comes to the rescue and we are soon engrossed in finding animals with the letter I.