Munni! yelled Giovan as he entered their house . He fumed with anger. “Munni!” He cried as he looked in both the rooms of their small house, but his sis was nowhere inside the house.
He found his mom in the balcony watering plants. “Have you seen Munni, mom?” he growled.
“Why? What’s the matter? Now what trouble did she get you into?” asked his mom irritably.
She was totally fed up with the bickering of the twins. How tiresome it was being a mother of the twins! Complaints from every corner filled her days , ever since they learned to walk and talk.
“Well she had pawned my bicycle to Hitesh in exchange of six packets of chips, six snickers and six cans of milkshake” he said sarcastically, pulling at his own hair.
His mom looked astonished and stared at his head transfixed. Giovan waved his hand in front of her eyes. Mom came back from her state of shock and gave a big sigh ,”Go find her, and bring her back to me.”
” When I find her I will make her pay for her pranks, ” Giovan glared fiercely.
” Why on the earth would anyone trade a bicycle for some food? I fail to understand. I really wish God gave her some wisdom along with her audacity, “said Mom.
“She does all these things just to annoy me. There’s no other reason at all. You must tell her to stop this at once, mom. She’s become too much of a troubled maker,” Giovan yelled.
” Calm down and speak politely,” mom scolded Giovan.
“Now, how shall I get back my bike, mom?” he asked.
” I shall speak to Hitesh’s mom, and request her to send ìt back. She’s a good lady and would make Hitesh understand. Now you run around and find your sis. Make sure she comes back with you. Don’t utter a word about the bicycle till you are inside the house. ” she advised.
Stomping out of the house, Giovan muttered, “Today that spoilt brat is going to learn a lesson for life.”
He found Asit and Chirag sitting on the grass in the community playground chatting. “Hi! Did any of you happen to see Munni this afternoon? “he enquired.
” Well, Well! By your looks it seems she has played a new trick on you. You have a gem of a sis, bro!” Chirag winked at Asit. The siblings were a source of entertainment in the community.
” Yes! you would say so, being the sole child of your parents. If you had to deal with the agony of being with a sis like Munni, you wouldn’thave pulled my leg at all times, ” Giovan grumbled.
“Ah! She’s a dear. A bit impish, but everyone’s favourite. This you must agree. ” said Asit. His sis Ira was a bookworm and a bore.
“You have not answered my question yet,” Giovan reminded.
“Nope, no sign of Munni the menace today.” Asit replied.
” That girl will turn me into a lunatic someday.” said Giovan.
” Aren’t you already one?” Chirag smirked.
Scowling at him Giovan said, ” You are most welcome to be her brother, I am quitting from the post. You would behave likewise when you find that your bicycle has been bartered for some snacks.”
Both Asit and Chirag howled with laughter and thumped the grass beside them.
“Finding it funny? Eh?” said Giovan, raising an eyebrow. “Gotcha, find her before she finishes off all the chips and chocolates she got in exchange for my bike.”
“Will be glad to help you if you share some of it with us,” said Asit eagerly.
“I’m trying to get those back so that I can return them and get my bicycle back. Not to eat them, got it?” said Giovan exasperated.
“O okay! calm down, bro, we’ll help you to find her just to see how sparks fly when you two meet,” Chirag joked.
“No need,” glared Giovan marching off to find Munni. It was a matter to be settled between themselves, not for entertaining outsiders. Though Munni was silly, Giovan was protective of her.
He searched for her in all the likely places. Rang the doorbells of her close friends to find out whether they were having some silly parties, to her nook in the park, but she couldn’t be found anywhere.
He was about to give in, when he spotted Aisha. Aisha and Munni were in the same standard and was on her long list of friends.
“Hi! Aisha,” he called out.
Aisha turned around and gave him a bored Hi! as was the norm for her gen.
“Have you seen Munni, today?” asked Giovan.
“I think I did,” she replied casually.
Arrrrgh! thought Giovan. Munni and her lot was too much to tolerant. But he desperately needed to get the information. So maintaining his facade of politeness he asked, “Really? How nice, can you tell me where she could be at this moment? “
“She went down to the migrant labourer’s camp where the new blocks are being built. I think she’s on some mission. She was quite in a hurry and barely gave a hello.”
” Labourer’s camp! Goodness! Silly girl, she’ll get into some kind of trouble if she makes friends there. ” Giovan panicked as he ran towards the site.
The make-shift tents came into view as soon as he turned the corner of the blocks under construction. There was quite a lot of work going on at the site.
Giovan made his way towards the tents. A lot of children were playing around, while some older women were busy cooking outside their tents.
Giovan looked around for Munni, worried that she might get into trouble someday because of her recklessness. He couldn’t see her anywhere. Finally, he decided to ask for her whereabouts and approached a wrinkled old woman with white hair and a kind face.
” Hello! Have you seen a girl about ten with ponytails come here this morning? “
“Ahh! Yes, you must be talking about Munni. You are her brother, right? You two look so similar,” she grinned she came in half an hour ago. I asked her name as she was new here.
“Yes, yes, she’s my sister. Where’s she?” he said as his annoyance turning into concern.
“There ,” said the woman; pointing to a blue tent right at the end of the row of colourful tents.
“Thanks!”Giovan rushed towards the tent, slowing down as he approached it.
Children’s laughter flowed from the tent among which one was of Munni’s. Giovan heaved a sigh of relief.
He peeked inside to see Munni sitting cross-legged on a worn out rug along with three other small children of about three to six year old.
“Yes, I want to be a doctor, ” the six year old girl said to Munni, munching chips from her packet of lays.
“I just want to be rich,” said the five year old boy beside her. Sipping his Amul cool.
“And what does Imli want to be?” asked Munni to the three year old stroking his head.
” Mummm mumm,” replied the youngest chewing his snickers. More interested in the chocolate than in the future.
They all laughed out aloud. Giovan cleared his throat, “Munni! ” he called.
Munni was startled , ” Oh! Giovan,” she said meekly. “How did you find me?”
” You have crossed all limits , Munni” Giovan glared at her.
“Where’smy bicycle? And why have you come here? This is not a safe place for you. You could have been kidnapped. Don’t you have the slightest sense?” he rebuked.
Munni held her head down. “I’ll get your bicycle tomorrow. I am sorry, but I lent it to Hitesh for sometime till I pay back his money.”
“Why would you do so with my bicycle? Why didn’t you exchange some of your stuff for those miserable packets of food?” Giovan countered her.
“Well it so happened that these little kids were roaming around our block crying. You see, their mom and dad work in the construction site and their father has had an accident and a fracture. All their savings have been spent on his treatment and as their mother is busy at the hospital; so they have nothing to eat. The neighbours are helping them sometimes but they too are too poor and busy to be able to look after them.”
“So you bartered my bicycle for a few packets of chips? And that’s Ok? My bicycle is worth three packs of chips and a few snacks?” fumed Giovan.
” Oh! no. I just lent it to him for a day or two, till I pay him back. It so happened; that I was enjoying your bike in your absence when I met these hungry kids. Right at that moment Hitesh was passing by with those food stuff that he bought for himself. So, I offered him the bike for sometime in exchange for the snacks. You see these kids are so small and hungry. My heart went out for them. I thought it would be better to take them to their home to keep them safe. Don’t worry I’ll get back your bicycle by evening. ” she grinned.
“Is this your brother? ” asked the six year old.
” Yes, Shallu, and I have to go back home now, ” said Munni getting up.
“Don’t roam around for food,” She said sternly, ” I and my friends will get you some from our homes till your mother can look after you.”
Giovan felt proud of his little sis. Although a prankster, she had a heart of gold. He started to think what else he could do to help the kids as they waved goodbye.
He had forgotten all about teaching her a lesson for life.