“The Picnic”

“I am so happy we are doing this today.” Nitya was talking to the kiddies using her calming voice to keep them from getting over-excited. She still had some packing to finish before they could start the day.

It was a cloudy day with sun playing hide and seek. Nitya was trying her best to get everyone ready for the big picnic. The kids had been long waiting for a day of fun with both their parents. Today was special. Nitya wanted it to be perfect. A fun day spent together followed by the big news.

Badal had a tough night because of the congested nose and cough. He woke up irritable and a bit low than the usual. Bijlee was thankfully fine and happy to start the day. Till last night she had seemed to be the most uninterested one but now it was difficult to control her from striking from the couch to the chair to the table. Both the kiddies were otherwise well-behaved little kids today, without any big tantrums.

Now Dev came out of the bedroom dressed but not for the picnic. He was ready to take on another day of meetings and colleagues. Nitya’s eyes went dull looking at his formal trousers and well-ironed shirt. She sighed a long one admiring her ironing skills and stopping whatever she was doing staring at Dev hiding her disappointment. She had to ‘sigh’ one more time before he looked up from his phone to give her his usual charismatic smile. “I know we have a picnic planned but I have a video call that I just cannot get out of. And so, you know.” he now gave her ‘the Look’ still trying to justifying, “Come on Nitya. I would do it for you. You know when you need me to.”

Nitya gave him an almost blank stare. But she could not hide her sadness. However hard she tried, she could not understand how a grown man, with whom she had shared 22 years of her life, could not understand her. The one who otherwise was so attentive to her tiniest of needs, but today was behaving like it was nothing. The only one who knew she liked to smoke a cigarette after 3 glasses of wine. The one who never forgot to put her phone on charging every night because of course, Nitya never remembered. One who knew she hated texting and so he sent her audio texts instead. How could he not know what day it was today? And why TODAY she needed him to stop everything else and be present for his family.

“I cleared my schedule for today a month ago. You know when I told you about the plan.” Claimed Nitya, staring straight at him, this time showing the disappointment in her eyes.  

“It is an issue I am needed for; I cannot just ignore my work. I have been working on this project for over a year now, Nitya. Come on, don’t make it tougher than it already is.” Dev tried to explain feeling guilty. But Nitya was in no mood for excuses. She continued packing lunches for everyone, the special ones, for the picnic.

“Well, excuse me for speaking my mind. But this picnic has been on the schedule for a long time and you knew I could not change the date. It is what it is. You promised you will be present.”

“You know what, whatever, I will take the kids by myself.” She was now angry for other reasons. Dev had not even noticed the date today. And that was hurting her even more.  

She got both the kiddies ready for the picnic. Bijlee was wearing her favorite yellow bandana and Badal looked happy now, even though he was low on energy. He picked a red one for the day. They all walked together with Nitya carrying the bags and toys smiling, and of course singing to them. They loved her singing.

Her kids loved it when she sang. She was able to calm them down the first night she got them home. They were so tiny then. Her loving addition to the little family they were starting.

Growing up in an orphanage without any real family Nitya wanted a big one of her own someday.  She wanted to be surrounded by the laughter and love she had always craved for. No one could believe her when she adopted Bijlee and Badal that she was 7 weeks pregnant with twins. “Why would you take on even more work? You already have babies coming along soon. Wait for a year or two before adopting pets.” She had heard it all. But only she knew what it was like to grow up alone without any loved ones. And so she decided to add on to her brood of babies. This way, they were all always going to be there for each other. She patted Badal and kissed him on his nose.

It was going to be a lovely day, so what if Dev could not join them. Her kids were ready and eager to spend the day outdoors. Today they were going to honor the ones who decided to turn back too early. The ones that lost life inside of her. The ones who would have been 5 years old. And just for a minute, Nitya felt the anger growing inside her stomach. Her throat got dry and eyes red with the pain she had been trying so hard to hide. Dev had finally forgotten about today. It was going to be just her who will ever miss those babies. 5 years was too long maybe for him to care. She had failed them yet again.  

She was woken up from her thoughts by Bijlee’s soft bark like she was calling her to start the car already. But she realized Bijlee was looking at someone else. It was Dev running towards the parked car, waving his hand to wait for him. He got in the passenger seat planting a kiss on Nitya’s forehead. “Let’s go. Are you both ready?” The two kiddies strapped up safely in the backseat nodded ready for the picnic. 

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