* THE ADVENTURES OF WAIWAI *
With head against the glass of the car, Waiwai looked out intently as he spotted the brightly lit building with advertisement hoardings approaching. Waiwai patted Daadu on his lap and whispered, “The Mall. I see it every day on the way to school Daadu, but now it looks sparkling!” Daadu smiled, and rubbed Waiwai’s back as he spoke with excitement.
As soon as the car halted, Waiwai jumped off and rested his restlessness that had grown ever since that evening when Ma was dressing him up. His eagerness then resulted in persistent questions, “Why are you dressing me up Ma, if we are going for shopping? What are we going to do? Tell me Ma?" Ma, kept silent to not trigger more questions and only nodded her head when Waiwai asked “Can I take my spectacles?”
Waiwai, now settled in front of the sparkling building with Daadu by his side. His hands resting on his waist he rotated his head animatedly and gulped in all that was happening around. Waiwai witnessed an assortment of little shops - some selling candies, a florist, a man selling popcorn, some snacks and within all that were some people sitting in groups along the edge of the shrubs. Some clapping in excitement, some sitting cosily, and few just waiting all under a large gas filled comic character who rose high into the sky. Waiwai imitating the swaying of the balloon character said, “Now I know Daadu, why my friend says this is a fun place!”
“So, you like the place?", asked Daadu. “It looks a bit like the fair we went to, doesn’t it? No, like also the park. See how everyone is sitting on the benches!” replied Waiwai in a haste.
With his attention still fixated to the swaying character, he headed towards the building and said, “Oh! like the airport!" - with his eyebrows narrowing to the centre and his vision closely laid on the security guard.
As they crossed the beeping noises, Waiwai asked, “Papa, what are we buying?”
“Why don’t you ask Ma?", replied Papa fidgeting with his shirt.
“Ma is not answering anything since evening. I don’t think she knows!” said Waiwai shaking his head. Ma, had a smirk and maintained her silence, knowing that would spare Daadu and her - shifting the attention to Papa.
Papa started to reply “We don’t have to buy anything. This is a place of leisure. So...”, but by then Waiwai lost concentration as he stood at the atrium with a tilted head, engrossed among the coloured lettering's, the catenary of lights, the balloons, paper decorations, posters hanging from the ceilings and even the shiny car in the centre of it all. Everything enclosed in a series of repetitive glass that continued higher and higher till Waiwai’s eyes could reach.
Seeing Waiwai lost in observation and in awe of the gigantic space Papa said, “Come!” and Ma nodded to emphasise it is to move ahead. Daadu remained standing beside Waiwai also keenly noticing the details around.
From there on, it was a walkathon...
Waiwai, positioning himself in between Ma, Papa in front and Daadu at the back, went from one floor to the other. They climbed an escalator, then got down another, moved across corridors in anticlockwise and then in clockwise directions. Entered a shop, sieved through and walked out, and then barely entered another and walked out again. Waiwai just kept moving with them, observing all that was around. The restaurants, the clothing shop, the art at displays, the large standing hoardings on the floor, and from time to time kept peeping below at the car around which a crowd swayed.
All of this only to be broken with a momentary lapse of concentration as he carefully whispered to Daadu, “What is window shopping?” Daadu, promptly held Waiwai by his shoulder and said, “Look Ma and Papa, they are glancing at the shop, but they may have no plans to buy.” Waiwai oscillated his head in acknowledgement, but before he could prod further, Daadu patted him on the back - a signal to move ahead.
The walking continued, but now Waiwai was not just following suit. He skated across the glossy floors, reached out to the catch the decorations while going up the escalator, moved in and around the people who were standing on his way and even stopped at the mannequin and said “Don’t you get bored, standing like this all day. I can’t even sit in one position in my class”, raising his eyebrows while imitating the mannequin’s posture.
Ma and Daadu, both noticed his series of actions and shook their head as if to imply that Waiwai was losing interest.
Within these growing antics, Waiwai just nudged past the crowd and set himself off the grid in between Ma, Papa and Daadu, and headed near the glass railing with his glasses. Daadu from a distant gestured Ma to carry on, as he found himself a seat from where he could keep a watch on Waiwai.
Waiwai, with his glasses on, held the railing and started sliding alongside and went in a complete circle to get a panoramic view of the mall. Then when he reached where Daadu was seated, he came up and said, “This is like kailo.. kailedsci.. kaleidoscope!”
“What is like a kaleidoscope? Have you seen a kaleidoscope?” enquired Daadu.
“The mall Daadu, the mall is like a kaleidoscope. In school they taught us how to make one. You take a lot of small things put it inside a triangle which is made up of mirrors and then every time you turn it, a different pattern can be seen. The mall is the same. There are so many things jumbled within it - that each time you move around, you see a different side Daadu. You see different things. Some time it feels like a place to sit and eat, at times walk and shop, then stand and click pictures, or gather around and laugh and in few places just decorations to see. Few areas are very bright, some areas are less noisy and some corners - as if nothing is happening. Most times Daadu, people are just standing and resting on the railing and in some floors, all standing in a line. Each time something else, so many different patterns! Isn’t it, Daadu?
“So that is why you said it was like a park, a bazaar, and a fair?", asked Daadu inquisitively.
Before Waiwai could absorb the question, Papa came in and said, “Come, we will go to the games corner.”
Waiwai’s eyes lit up. “Games!” he said.
Waiwai matched step to step walking towards the games corner, but as soon as he saw a queue outside the ticket counter, his pace halted. Waiwai’s excitement just wilted. His shoulders dropped, as he shook his head, and trudged back in opposite direction. He went past Ma and Daadu, who were still to approach and landed himself against the glass railing once more.
Waiwai stood at the railing and wearing his glasses, started to draw in air with his index finger. For a while Papa, Ma and Daadu let him be as each of them took time to gather some breath.
“Come, we will eat something” called out Ma. Waiwai walked towards the table and sat himself down. “So, what were you drawing, the forms of kaleidoscope?”, asked Daadu.
“No Daadu, I was tracing how we reached from the entrance up to here. We went up, down, here, there, stopped, paused and at the end just ended up here. It was very jumbling, Daadu!”
“But did you not say the mall is jumbled like a kaleidoscope?”, enquired Daadu.“Yes Daadu, the mall ,when is jumbled, makes patterns; but I feel jumbled like the painting I did the other day at school.”, replied Waiwai in slight agitation.“What painting?” asked Ma.
“I took the brush and started making random lines on paper. Each time I drew a line I used one colour, and then within the colourful lines I added more colours. Some bright colours, some dark colours and then a few dots of colours; and I kept filling in colours till the white sheet was full of colours.”
“So, what ...” interrupted Papa. Almost ignoring the statement Waiwai continued, “Spending time inside the mall, made me feel that I am doing the same painting Daadu – may be everyone was doing the same painting.”
“When my teacher saw the painting, she said I was confused as there were many colours in the box. So, I wanted to use them all. Like that, everyone here seems to be confused. They go into each shop, see everything, then stop seeing, then walk out as if they are not interested and then suddenly want to do something else. If nothing Daadu, everyone is just walking along the corridors! Nobody seems to know what to do inside here, just like I did not know. If Papa wanted to take me to play the games, then why did not we go directly? And when we went, there were so many people standing. I felt tired simply looking at the queue, Daadu. Just like how I felt - exhausted after I had made the painting.” Waiwai paused with a deep breath.
The deep breath of Waiwai almost resonated with Ma and Papa, as they stared at him, realising how they themselves were left consumed after painting their individual jumbled picture inside the mall.
As Ma and Papa stared, Waiwai broke the silence and said cheekily “Why you window- shopping me?". It was as if attempt to overcome his tiredness with laughter.
Daadu continued and asked, “So was it fun like your friend said?”
“It’s a mania!” exclaimed Waiwai, repeating his teacher's words.