We missed the entire cosmos for this panipuri party. We can always go to the planetarium next Sunday. I figured the only way to get the neighborhood kids to include Pavan to play in their group is to invite them home and feed them.
So I spend the whole day thinking of the panipuri. For the filling, better to soak some chana than boil potatoes. For the pani, organic jaggery is better than sugar. Add some crushed dates, they are packed with nutrients. If six kids turn up, each can have two plums.
Half an hour before the party, both of us spring into action. Pavan starts doing up his room, I start the cooking. He helps me with the tasting. I compliment him on the way he has arranged the cushions, like a mountain against the wall. Half an hour after the party time, not one kid has turned up. I send him to the playground to get them.
'They said they will come tomorrow. Today they are playing the final match.' he tells me, looking up, eyes round with disappointment.
'Tell them I have made panipuri. Tomorrow I will make popcorn.'
'Its the final match, Ai. They wont come.'
'Why aren't you playing the final match with them?'
'I don't know.' he admits. From being the most sought after kid in the block to being ignored is a transition the little mind cannot comprehend.
'Oh well. Let us eat the panipuri then. We can eat lots. As much as we want.'
'Yippeee! Can we eat Panipuri for dinner too?' he asks.
'No, kiddo. We will both end up with sore throats.'
Dinner is toast with Maggie noodles. I put in the chana and some vegetables to garnish.
'Noodles are good for health,' says the little one.
'No, kiddo. They are tasty, but they not very good for health.'
'No, Ai, they are good for health.' He looks so innocent, with his fresh haircut.
'Ok, I will tell you why I keep saying that. To begin with, they are made of maida.'
'No, these are atta Maggie. They are good for health.'
'I am not so sure they are really made of atta.'
'No, Ai , they are really made from atta.'
'Oh yeah? And how do you know? You been to the factory?' I challenge him.
'I haven't been to the noodles factory. But I have gone to the Parle G factory. In Ahmedabad. With Navjyoti maam.'
'There they told us how Maggie noodles are made.'
'In the Parle G factory?'
'Yes! First, you take atta, you put it in, on one side, then it goes in, then from other side, it comes out like this, like long long, then it gets cut, cut, cut, then it gets into the plastic and then it goes to the shops!'
'Thats cool. And what about the biscuits? '
'Oh, they are also made form atta. It's very simple. Just like the Maggie. From one side they put atta, and other side you get hot biscuits.'
'Yes, we ate hot biscuits and they also had sweet smell.'
And just before he finally slept, he had one last question for me.
'Ai, can I have a little rat as a brother? Like Stuart little? I will make a car for him and take him out for rides.'
'This is a big deal, you know. I will have to ask Papa.'
'You will surely talk to Papa?'
'Yes, I will. Now good night.'