Choti Sardarni: A Different Perspective (Chapter 6)

Surprise II

Woosh, woosh, woosh… Meher looked above at the small AC vent that sprayed fresh cool air on them as they sat in a small family cabin of a private jet. “Now can you tell me where we’re going Sarabjeetji” asked Meher for the fifth time. “I told you we’re going for a family holiday to Himachal Pradesh” replied Sarab calmly, casually flipping through the magazine in his hand. Meher grabbed the magazine and replied “I mean why are we going, you didnt mention anything, nor asked and all of a sudden you tell us to get ready shooshatak and in two hours suddenly we’re sitting in a plane flying to Himachal Pradesh.” “First of all Meherji, this isn’t a plane, its a private jet, with Covid and all the travel restrictions in place, I rented this to safely bring my family to and from the vacation. I have also made all the preparations for our stay there, and I know your worried about our home but don’t worry I had also informed Ajayji about this for the past couple days so he knew what to do. ” A couple days asked Meher shocked” slapping Sarab’s arm with the magazine again “you’ve been planning this for a couple days and couldn’t be bothered to tell me, you can tell Ajayji but can’t tell your wife” she hit Sarab again with the magazine. “Mamma” called out Seher as she joyfully climbed into Sarab’s lap, “why are you hitting Papa” she asked smilingly. “Yea Meher mamma why are you upset with Papa” asked Param next sitting next to Meher as Karan followed behind him. “Yea Papa planned such a nice surprise for us” said Karan excited! “Thank you baccho, only you three value me” said Sarab feigning hurt as he kissed Seher’s head.” “Oh please” said Meher cutting him off. “And puttarji said Meher holding Param, I’m hitting your papa because he was planning this vacation and wasn’t bothered to tell me. Tell me puttarji when you have a project at school do you prepare for it in advance or do it the night before”? “I always plan in advance mamma, and even you help me mamma” replied Param. “Exactly Puttarji said Meher as she kissed Param’s cheek. “If your papa was planning a surprise for you kids, shouldn’t he have told me so I could prepare things at home for when we go and also have things ready for when we come back. So when we get back home tired from the vacation, we don’t have to worry about laundry, or cleaning our room etc. “Your right Meher mamma, papa why didnt you tell Meher mamma” asked Param. “Meher mamma ka chamcha” replied Sarab softly. “What, what did you say” asked Meher. “Nothing” replied Sarab. “No no, you definitely said something” “Meherji, I didnt say anything” “you definitely said something, some moo mantra for sure” “Meherji am I crazy to argue with you, you my Bandarji and invite my downfall” replied Sarab folding his hands playfully. “Smart boy” replied Meher as the family burst into laughter.

After a couple hours the private jet landed in Himachal Pradesh. Sarab, Meher and the kids got off and got into the car that waited for them. They drove through beautiful greenery and large mountains. The kids ooed and eeed as they had their eyes glued to the windows. Sarab looked at them from the rear view mirror and smiled as he saw the kids so happy. He reached over to his wife sitting next to him and entwined his hand in hers, holding her hand as he drove through the long road. He was happy that the start of the vacation was going well, what starts well, ends well. After driving for 30 or so minutes Sarab slowed down and turned into a long dirt road. The long winding dirt road was narrow but after driving a few minutes turned into this beautiful large wooden bungalow. The bungalow sat elevated to the ground and had two stair sets leading up to the beautiful home. Across the home you could hear the crash of water as a great river ran around right next to it. Surrounded by tall green trees the home was secluded from the rest of the world and large mountains looked over the trees past the river. All three kids wowed as Sarab stood smiling watching the kids and Meher stunned by the beauty of what laid in front of them. They could hear no cars or engines, the only sound surrounding them was nature, birds chirped at the green tree tops and the water crashed through the rocks as it continued forming the crisp dark blue river. Slight winds flowed through the air moving through the tree leaves singing a song of their own, if heaven had a name it would be here for sure. Meher was speechless, now she knew why Sarab choose this place to vacation, no resort or water park or any man made hotel could come close to this, this place was designed by God, by Mother Nature and nothing could compare. Walking over to Meher, Sarab grabbed his wife from the back and pulled her close. Pecking his wife’s cheek he asked “so what do you think”? Still stunned by the natural beauty Meher replied “its beautiful” “not more than you” said Sarab looking at his wife. “Sarabjeetji you can flirt with me later but look around you” Meher pointed “this place is heavenly” “I don’t think so” Sarab replied “besides I did’nt come here to look at anything else, I came here to look at you.” Meher turned to look at her doting husband. “There’s no cell towers here, no signal, and not many people so finally no phone call or message or person can disturb us. I came here to spend time with you, to spend time with my kids, my world away from the rest of the world. Meher held Sarab and rested her head on his chest as she closed her eyes “It’s perfect” she said. “mamma, papa” the kids came running one followed by the other. “Maybe there is someone here after all to disturb you” Meher teased slapping Sarab’s chest as she walked towards the kids. “I can take care of that no problem” Sarab yelled behind Meher “I just need you to cooperate with me” he smiled as Meher turned around to show him a thumbs down and stick her tongue at him. Sarab loved when Meher made those faces, she did it more often than she knew, she often teased him with her tongue out and crossed eyes or by making a sad face and pouting when Sarab didn’t get his way. She would suddenly bring out the little kid in her and Sarab loved it, his Bandriji he thought!

“Mamma Papa, can we go swimming in the river? Please, please, please” the kids jumped together. “of course” said Sarab walking up behind Meher, “we’re going to go swimming, fishing, climb trees, zipline and so much more” he said picking up both Karan and Seher, one under each arm. “what do you think we’re here to do” he asked as he started running with the kids. Karan and Seher laughed as Sarab ran around with them. “Param let’s go” said Meher holding Param’s hand and running behind Sarab and the kids. The running and laughter between them soon turned into a game of tag, with one running and trying to catch the others. No one was tired from the flight or travel, seeing the beautiful home and scenic location had leased everyone a fresh new energy. It was a beautiful sight seeing Sarab, Meher and the kids so happy and content together. This was perhaps the first time that all five of them had been away together alone, so carefree and so content.

After running around and playing outside the family finally went inside and decided to rest before having dinner. The wooden bungalow was beautiful it was a two story double home that was combined together to make one big home. There was a big kitchen with both wooden gas and an electric one. The rooms were large and comfortable and almost every room had a view of its own to love. Meher and Sarab’s room was in the middle corridor and overlooked the beautiful river that ran by the house. The river was calm and wide at the end where it turned and then by the time it got to this side of the house it would crash through the rocks creating an amazing atmosphere. They had a large bathroom with two showers, two sinks and a large bathtub in the middle. The kids room was a few doors down on the right side of the home. In the middle there was a study and a library before having a small children’s playroom which was attached to the kids room. This home was owned by a family who know lived abroad but because they had a large family Sarab thought this would be an apt choice for his surprise vacation. The upstairs had more rooms and bathrooms followed by a small movie theater. Finally after running through the home and taking a quick shower the kids were hungry. Meher had just finished setting all their clothes and started to tie up her hair to begin making dinner. Meher was looking at the fridge and pantry doors when suddenly she felt her hair loose falling against her face, turning around she saw a smirking face of Sarab throwing and catching her hair pin, before Meher could say anything she felt herself pushed into the pantry and heard the door close behind Sarab. Turning on the single bulb in the pantry Sarab turned to face Meher. “Sarabjeetji what are you doing, the kids are outside!” Meher said quickly in a hushed tone. “Meherji” said Sarab holding Meher close “The kids are outside and we are inside, what difference does it make, besides how could I miss this chance” he continued slowly leaning down towards Meher. “Mr. Jatt in Toilet, have some shame, your the father of not one but three kids.” “So what, I’m the father of three kids and I definitely don’t mind being the father of one more” Sarab said with a wink, “or three, or four or five, actually let’s have 9 then we could make our own cricket team” he said excitedly.” Putting her hand on Sarab’s mouth to cut him off Meher replied “I am very happy and very tired with just three kids, you try giving birth to one and then tell me about 9.” “Fine” said Sarab, “three kids and the two of us are perfect, besides Yuvi and Kushi are also our own kids, right” asked Sarab? Seeing her husband mention her brother’s and his sisters kids as his own, swelled Meher’s chest with pride and love. Apart from his handsome looks, Meher loved the heart of her Sardarji even more. He loved and cared for everyone around him without any discrimination or self motive. He was always there for everyone and showed his love freely, except his love for his wife, that was reserved just for Meher and just that thought alone gave Meher butterflies which was enough for her to pull her Sardarji down towards her.

After their little moment in the pantry, Sarab and Meher now both sat on the outside deck. Meher leaned towards Sarab resting her head on his shoulder while Sarab had his hand around his wife. They both used a throw to cover themselves from the slight cold wind and sat quietly enjoying the sound of water and the swaying of the trees. Life was peaceful after so long. After having a nice big meal the kids played ball outside for sometime until the sunset and then finally tired from the day they went to bed. After several quite moments Meher quietly, in order to not ruin the moment asked Sarab “Sarabjeetji, will you tell me now why we actually came here”. Sarab looked over at his wife and kissing her head replied “how do you always know Bandriji” ” I know you better than yourself, just like how you know me” Meher replied “we’re both halves without each other, the other piece knowing the other better than themselves.” Sarab smiled “I really wanted to bring you and the kids out somewhere, somewhere where my wife doesn’t have to worry about fighting the next problem, somewhere where my kids can be kids. And honestly if I had to live like a farmer my whole life or some small retail worker in order to live here like this with you and the kids I’d choose that anyday. But unfortunately we have responsibilities and a busy world we have to go back to. But before we do that, before we go any further there is something I need to do” Sarab said looking out in front of him. “You want to tell Karan don’t you” asked Meher? Sarab looked over at his wife and with a slight sadness in his eyes nodded in approval. “I have to Meherji, the more we delay the more I feel like I’m lying to him. It won’t make a difference in our relationship or it might but either way I’m going to tell him. “I knew that you would tell him” Meher replied “and I think its best you do it yourself, your Bandru adores you and I’m sure he would want to hear about it from you only.” “Like how Param only listens to you” asked Sarab getting a smile in return from Meher “Whenever you think is the right time to tell him, tell him and if you need me, your Bandriji is always here, right next to you” said Meher snuggling closer to Sarab. Holding her close Sarab smiled, his heart said that everything would be fine, he knew his son but his brain wanted him to tell Karan the truth and so he would. Not any time but tomorrow itself. Meher and Sarab sat there enjoying each other’s company, living in the moment. Now Sarab had no worries for tomorrow, he closed his eyes and enjoyed his today.

Next morning Sarab was busy getting his boots on when his Bandru came running to him waving his head cloth. “Good morning my Bandru” “Good morning papa” replied Karan happily. “Meher mama already got Param and Seher ready and they’re walking to the nearby fruit farm to pick fruits.” “Good” replied Sarab as he tied Karan’s head cloth “because papa and Bandru are going somewhere else” “where, where Papa” asked Karan excitedly “Slowly puttarji, your head cloth will be tilted, we’re going to the market to pick up some groceries and other stuff, we can then walk up to meet your Meher mama, and Param and Seher at the local restaurant for lunch, sounds good” asked Sarab as he finished tying Karan’s head cloth. “Great, let me go get my boots too, today I’ll wear my boots like you” replied Karan before leaving. Sarab grabbed his wallet and watch and held Karan’s hand before walking out the house with him. They walked outside the house and Sarab decided to take the short cut to cut the narrow driveway. They walked through the small bushes and found themselves surrounded by large trees. The tree’s made a canopy over them with the sun peeking through the holes in between. “wow papa, this looks just like my fairy tales, so pretty” said Karan excitedly. “Karan, puttarji fairy tales are great, they give you an inspiration when you feel down in life but we should always be living in the moment. You should have stars in your eyes but you should also be able to look at the world in front of you. Like look at these beautiful trees and this quiet nature, there are minimal cars here and everyone lives so happily, do we get to see this in Punjab”? asked Sarab as Karan nodded no. “The amazing thing about traveling puttarji is you get to see different parts of the world and meet people who don’t live like you, its like reading a new fairytale, every new destination is like a new book and every new person we meet is like a new character in that book. I want you to live life and actually see these fairytales, this way you not only get to read the fairytale but you get to live it puttarji” said Sarab picking up Karan and walking with him on his shoulder. Karan laughed and both father and son continued walking happily. Karan looked at the trees above him and heard birds singing. Karan saw a nest of birds and poked at Sarab’s head while he had his eyes glues to the top “papa look a nest, look you can see the small birds beak, they look so nice” said Karan fascinated by the birds. Sarab looked up to see a nest of Crows. Sarab put Karan down and seeing the birds felt as if God was giving him an idea. “Karan puttarji those are Crows” said Sarab. “They’re so pretty Papa, they look big and strong and they sing so well” said Karan still looking at the nest. “Crows are amazing creatures puttarji, they can not only make their own tools but they also use those tools to accomplish their tasks. They can make things out of wood and leaves and use those to care for their family, they’re one of the most intelligent birds. In fact if there is a danger nearby, crows will inform other birds and warn them about it, Crows are also known to remember our faces.” “So if they saw me, they’ll remember me” asked Karan stunned as Sarab nodded. “Hey guys, I’m Karanjit Singh Gill, guys I’m down here, can you see me” said Karan jumping up and down excitedly waving at the birds. Sarab smiled and replied “but do you know why I really like Crows” Karan shaked his head “why” asked Karan. “Because Crows have a good heart, they don’t look as colorful and pretty as the other birds but they are really kind, helpful and loyal. Koyal’s the birds who sing really well” continued Sarab “Koyal’s will often place their eggs in a Crow’s nest and in turn push out the Crow’s eggs and then fly away. When the Crow comes back and finds the Koyal’s egg what do you think they do” asked Sarab now kneeling down next to Karan. Shrugging his shoulder Karan replied “I don’t know, Crows will also push the Koyal’s eggs out because they pushed out the Crow’s eggs” “No” said Sarab calmly. “The Crow treats the egg just like it takes care of his own eggs. He cares for the egg and loves it without thinking whether its his own egg or some other birds. When the egg hatches the Crow feeds the little bird” “Even though its a little Koyal” asked Karan quickly. “Even though its a little Koyal” confirmed Sarab “The crow takes care of the little Koyal like it takes care of his own, feeding it, keeping it safe, teaching it to slowly fly and then when the Koyal is big enough to fly, it flies out of the nest one day to go build his own.” “Wooow” said Karan quietly in awe. “Puttarji I need you to look at me” said Sarab slowly turning Karan towards him. “Puttarji what I’m about to say will never change the love I have for you in my heart. I love all my kids equally but there’s a special bond between us, all you kids have my heart but my Bandru is just my Bandru.” Karan smiled as Sarab continued. “Puttarji, both you and I are like the Crow and the Koyal” said Sarab slowly gauging Karan’s reaction, when Karan didn’t react Sarab continued. “Puttarji, your Meher mama and I got married when you were already an egg, Meher mama brought you as a baby in her tummy with her, I wasn’t there when she had you but I was there when you were born, even before you were born I was there to feel your first kick. I saw your first pic at the hospitals monitor and was there with you before you even entered this world and I will always be with you Puttarji as long as I have air in my lungs and as long as my heart beats, you will always find your Papa next to you” Sarab said engulfing Karan in a hug. “So I’m like a Koyal who was given to you like that Crow” asked Karan “so I was the only Koyal” he continued “not Param or Seher but just me, I’m like that Koyal” asked Karan again slowly. Afraid of what Karan’s next reaction would be Saran nodding slowly. Karan was just a kid, that’s why Sarab wanted to explain to Karan in a manner that he could understand, Sarab didnt want to throw medical processes at him and confuse him and make such a big revelation at the same time. His sons mind would be overwhelmed and Sarab didnt want that, that’s why Saran opted to tell him in a storybook like way, but now that Sarab had told him he waited nervously for Karan’s next reaction. Sarab prayed silently to God, he prayed that his son would understand his emotions more than his words and would remember his feelings over the new facts. Karan stood there still processing the new information and all Sarab could do was wait and pray. Time froze for Sarab, his heart beat louder than those crashes of waves and if anyone could hear it Sarab was afraid all the birds and animals nearby would run away hearing how loud his heart beat. Sarab prayed to God because it was not a matter of him, it was a matter of a father, a father was desperate for his sons approval, a father was desperately hoping that these worldly facts would not come in the way of his sons love. At that time a father prayed and waited for his son’s next words, for his son’s next reaction, this was no longer Sarabjeet Singh Gill who could fight the world, this was simply a father kneeling down next to his son. A father who waited for his son.

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