This story is from a year or so ago, back when my threenager was just shy of the age of two. It was a period when he loved to play 'the host'. In fact, every time the doorbell rang, he would push everything (and everyone) away and rush to open the door. He'd then gesture to them to come inside, while attempting to say, "Welcome!".
Of course, we soon had to put an end to it. Lest we find ourselves playing host to Raju - the 'Iron' man, Sudeep - the 'letter man' and Iqbal - the 'garbage collector'. Understandably, my son was upset for a few days. But he never let it get in the way of his hosting skills. So he would often throw 'virtual parties' where he would bring out all the utensils and then, compulsorily feed every stuffed animal, object and of course, me - because I was always around. And not wanting to break his little heart, I would continue to 'pretend eat and drink' all this invisible food and drink.
A few months later, as he started to eat and drink independently (relatively anyway, because he was into this Terrible Twos), he started to offer me actual food. This was usually a combination of the some leftovers from his meal or from his stockpile that he had started hiding at various locations, throughout the house. And I was delighted. No, not just 'pretend delighted' as I used to - but really delighted. Because he was finally offering me food.
However, one thing perturbed me. He never offered me anything 'real' to drink. It was always the empty cup filled with 'virtual' tea, coffee or juice. This went on for a few days, until once he brought me something in his little cup. I was busy writing, when I heard him push around some vessels in the kitchen. Before I could get up and check, he ambled out of the kitchen with his cup in hand.
"Papa, juice!" he said, animatedly pointing towards the cup in his hand.
One look at the cup, and I was ecstatic. My son had brought me water - yes, the actual liquid version of it and not the 'imaginary' version. Fighting back those tears (yes, don't judge me - I can be an emotional person), I gulped it all down and smiled at him. He looked at me, as if amused, and then returned with a smile of his own. Of course, at that point I never thought twice about asking him where he'd got the water from. He was obviously delighted with my response, and all through that day, I found him bringing me regular cups of this refreshing magical water, that had a very earthy taste to it. So that evening, I impatiently paced up and down the living room, eagerly waiting for my wife to return home from work. I had this whole amazing idea in my head - I would make her sit down on the couch and ask Rishi to bring her some of his virtual noodles - cooked using a real wok, spatula and lots of imagination - and then top it off with a glass of water. I know what you're thinking - It's just a glass of water. But in my head, it wasn't. I was over thinking it and taking it as a sign of his big-heartedness. Especially since he'd never offered me a drink, before.
However, as Murphy would have it, my wife got caught up with work and was late to return.
So when she arrived, long after Rishi had gone to sleep, despite my 'lowered' enthusiasm, I told her about what Rishi had done. I even tried to make her feel bad for having missed Rishi's cup of magical drink. What surprised (or rather, shocked) me was my wife’s lack of animated reaction. She was visibly calm, and soon her face spotted a smirk, which in no time evolved into a smile and then into, what I can only describe as ‘Roll-on-the-floor-laughter’. Of course, I was really confused. And a tad angry too. So, I just stood there with my hands folded, waiting for her to finish so that I could give her a good verbal reproach.
A few minutes later, she got up from the couch and gestured for me to follow her into the kitchen. Half-heartedly, I followed her with a frown on my face. She walked through the kitchen and into the balcony, and pointed towards the corner where there were a few dirty dishes and a couple of our potted plants. Confused, I looked back at her.
Amused by my bewilderment, she smiled and said, “The only place he can get water from, is that bucket we collect the dirty rain water that leaks from the roof. That’s the source of your magical water!”.
Mess with them at your own peril.
So here's the thing, I've just been told by one of my friends, that a slightly different version of this post (that well predates my post, of course) has been doing its rounds for close to a decade as an email joke.
So if you've read that before, all I'd like to say is mine is a true story and any coincidence is unintentional and accidental.