I have not met them for years. In fact, I have never met the younger one properly. The elder one scrapped me a few months back on Orkut. Then, we started interacting on Gtalk and Facebook. I love talking to kids- and loved being in touch with them.
I am talking about my nieces who have spent most of their childhood in Delhi. One of them is in Class Eleven and the other is in Class Seven.
They were supposed to come down to Kolkata to attend the family wedding and I was quite excited at the prospect of meeting them - they are a pair of teenagers whom I have seen as small babies.
A week prior to the wedding, me and my cousin went to a bookstore. I wanted to get books for the girls and some other children who would be coming down for the wedding. We spent a considerable amount of time in the Children's section and Young Adults section. Choosing books for two young girls whom both of us knew quite superficially turned out to be a difficult job!
When I browsed through Classics, my cousin cautioned me - they might not like classics - he said. When I browsed through light Young Adult fiction- he said there was no point in paying so much money for these kind of books. Finally, after much deliberations, I decided upon a Enid Blyton school story for the elder one and The Butterfly Lion by Michael Morpurgo.for the younger one.
When I went for the wedding, I packed the books with my belongings - I would be gifting the books to the girls when I meet them in a couple of day's time.
The day they were about to board the train with their mother (my cousin), news reached us that they have cancelled the trip for a number of reasons.
As soon as I got the news, I put the books into R(another of my niece)'s luggage - she too had come down from Delhi and would be returning there once the wedding was over.
Later that week, when the ceremonies got over, R came down to our place to spend the day with us! I hope you have got the books with you- I asked her. No, I have given them to T-Didi, she has put the books in her luggage- R assured me. T is a cousin of mine who would also be returning to Delhi.
A day later, T came down to our place with her husband and kids and spent a couple of days with us, before boarding their train to Delhi. It never occurred to me that I needed to confirm that the books were with her.
When the whole group reached Delhi, we exchanged calls and messages ... the wedding photos were uploaded on Facebook and cousins, nephews and nieces from every corner of the country joined in happy reminiscences. The nieces for whom I have sent the books also chipped in once in a while. But they did not mention whether they liked the books or not. T might not have met them and so they have not got the books yet- I thought.
Later that week, Tu, the elder of the teenagers, asked me about the books. Masi, who has got our books? - were her exact words. My heart skipped a beat. I told her that I had given the books to R and she has given them to T. This interaction was taking place on Facebook. R joined in and expressed her apprehension that the books seem to have got lost. We seem to have left them in the room rented for the wedding - she said. And she apologized. I was taken aback - didn't know what to say.. how to react!
I made it quite clear to R that I was a bit annoyed and she apologized once again. But that would not find the books for me. I called up my aunt and she assured me that she would try to inquire. She called me up in the afternoon and told that the rented place had been checked properly and nothing was found.
Meanwhile, the Facebook conversation was going on .. TU had been online after school and had written to R, "Shit! Masi.. how could you do this.."
I wrote to T's hubby who replied stating that the books were never given to T and might be found inside a covered bookshelf in the rented room! I called up my aunt once again and she confirmed that there was a covered shelf in the room in question.
Finally, I called up my uncle (the one who had rented the room). At first, he thought I was talking about the grand reception venue which was far off from their home. He rightly said that things thus misplaced in public venues could never be found. I corrected him and told that I was talking about the rented room (which was being referred to as The Island for various reasons :P )just opposite his house. My uncle was in one of his sweet moods and assured me that he would look into the matter.
In the evening, he gave me a call from The Island and read me the names of the books. I instantly knew he had found the books and had them with him. I gave a cry of relief!
I called up my aunt, T, her hubby, and R (who did not pick up the phone) to give the good news. Then I came online and found a very repentant R offering TU to buy her the "lost" books.
And then I was amazed to find how fast news travel these days!! TU was informing R that the books have been found! In just a matter of five minutes, the news has traveled from me to T and to TU who was typing it on Facebook to let R know!
A minute later I received a call from a giggly R who suggested me ways of sending the books over to Delhi.