Tara came running down the stairs.
“Why, there’s nothing here!”
“Look around, idiot!” said Narayan excitedly.
He descended so quickly that the sound of the successive steps merged into one.
“Gopa!! Hey Gopa!!” shouted Tara, knocking on the door of the room leading off from
the landing. It was locked.
“Gopa!! Babu!” yelled Narayan Prasad even more loudly.
Gopal’s small voice came through the crack in the door.
“Open the door at once. You naughty boy.”
“Don’t threaten him. The poor little thing is probably playing.”
“Did he throw paper into the fire?”
Gopal puffed quickly on a paper cigarette that he had made himself and threw the butt
into the fire. He would have thrown that piece away whether or not his parents had come.
When they entered the room they smelled the odor of burning paper even more.
“What a baby,” said Narayan, chucking his son’s chin, “he was playing so hard he
didn’t even realize that the paper has fallen into the fire.”
“You can call it playing if you want to, but I don’t like the way he’s been carrying on
nowadays. He’s eight years old, but when it comes to sense, he hasn’t … What kind of a
game is this with the door always closed? I’ve had enough of it.”
Gopal extricated himself from his father’s embrace and ran outside.
“Nowadays he won’t spend even a minute with us.”
“Let him go and play. Remember when we were young.”