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A Baby-Sitter's Nightmare
by Debashish Majumdar

My week old neighbor, Mrs. Kumar charged into my house like a fire engine. She wiped her wet eyebrows with a handkerchief. Her face was sour as a lemon.

“ My husband is off on tour, “ she spoke helplessly, “ I have to attend to my ailing mother in the city…My little son Guddu will be all alone in the house.”

She eyed me like an eagle.

“ Would you like me to ---?” I muttered.

“ Can you please take care of Guddu?,” she interrupted cheerfully.

“ He is just not like any other eleven year old. “

“ Madam, can you please explain?” I asked her politely.

“ Guddu is a wee bit pampered, that’s all,” she was desperate to make me her son’s baby-sitter for a day, “ Here is a list of instructions.”

I did not even have an inkling of an idea to what Guddu was like.

A shrill greeted me like the arrival of a vampire in a Dracula movie. It was the arrival of Guddu. I shivered at the thought of what was to come. His mum quickly waved me goodbye and took flight.

“ Best of luck with me,” Guddu winked.

I read the first instruction on the list carefully. Open the boy’s play-kit.  He eyed me like a bull-dog as I unzipped it. I pulled out chewed up remains of plastic toys, powdered crayons, even mashed potatoes and dried up cabbage leaves. Guddu clapped his hands and laughed.

I eyed him carefully.

“ Guddu, don’t you like to read?” I asked him firmly.

“ Wait, I will fetch you my big story book,” he smiled.

With a Tarzan-like leap he disappeared into the bedroom. He handed me a giant sized book.  When I opened the first page to read him a story, two big round eyes were staring at my face. Guddu had made big holes in the pages.

“ Do you want some orange juice?” he invited me softly.

Well Guddu had a good, sharing heart. He was kind. He was friendly. He swung open the fridge door. He lifted a bottle of “squash” and poured out its contents into a tumbler.

He made a peace sign: “I want to be your friend.”

“ Thank you, Guddu.”

I drank and gurgled out the contents on the carpet.

“ Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughed out Guddu. He had mixed orange pastel colours in water.

I nervously glanced at the instruction sheet.

“ It’s milk time,” declared Guddu loudly.

While I mopped up the carpet, I handed over the cup of milk to the imp. He ran into the kitchen and returned to the drawing room and burped.

“ Go to the wash basin and wash yourself,” I was losing my patience.

“ There is milk all over your face.”

I trooped into the kitchen just to be sure. I was greeted by a purring family cat licking off the last traces of milk from her bowl! 

I lost track of Guddu for a moment. I heard the sound of water gurling.

As I rushed into the bathroom, a splash of water struck my face. The tub was
full of water. Guddu was swimming.

“What are you doing with your clothes on?” I howled, tearing off my hair.

“I am a big, blue whale,” he remarked, not bothered by my words.

I dragged him out of the water. I fell back on the checklist.

Next teach Guddu the lesson on the blue whale taught in the class…

I scratched my head.

He smartly changed into dry clothes. He carried a container of coconut oil.

“ Mummy pours coconut oil on my head daily before she combs my hair!”

I was now in a hurry to complete my baby-sitting tasks.

I poured some ‘oil’ upon his head…gosh, it was glue diluted in water!

I stared at Guddu with big, angry eyes. That softened him up.

“ You will polish your own school shoes!” I shouted at him, handing over
the brush and shoe polish. He made a naughty face at me and even before I
could stop him he had painted his cheeks with black soot.

“ Don’t I look like a little chimp?” he gurgled with joy. “ Want me to blacken
your face too?”

I was bent on punishing him. No meals for him. No favourite noodles. As I removed his plateful of food, he snatched the checklist from my hands. The
list had disappeared into his mouth. He was chewing it! The list was gone!

Thankfully, the door bell rang. It was Guddu’s beaming mother.

“ Had a nice day? “ she asked Guddu, “ My poor kid!”

She hugged Guddu like a bear.

He grabbed at the plate of noodles.

Then he winked at me and smiled.

I was delighted to scamper home. No more kid-sitting I promised myself. 

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