“Is there something wrong with Mumu these days?”, opined Mayank with concern.
“Why do you think so?”, asked Meenakshi, his wife.
Mrunmayi aka Mumu was Meenakshi and Mayank’s seven-year-old daughter.
“I have heard her talking to that new stuffed toy. Don’t you think its name ‘Smirking Bunny’ is uncanny?”
“That’s what all the children her age do, Mayank, especially the children who don’t have a sibling or a pet. As for Smirking Bunny, it’s a rage these days amongst the girls her age.”
“But there is something strange about it”, said Mayank shrouded in doubt.
The Bunny kept inside the tent house, smirked. But no one noticed it. Not even Mumu as she had ventured out of the tent house.
“Amma, I want one dupatta”, said Mumu as she emerged out of her bedroom.
“For what bachcha?”, checked Meenakshi.
“I want to be Bunny’s Amma and take him to school”, she replied.
Meenakshi smiled and went to the bedroom.
“Why do you need dupatta?” enquired Mayank.
“Bunny told me that Amma wears dupatta to school for parent-teacher meetings. Isn’t it? And I am Bunny’s Amma. So I want it”, explained Mumu innocently.
“Bunny told you? He speaks to you?”
“Yes Appa”, replied the child confidently.
“But that’s a stuffed toy”
“Mayank, don’t be a spoilsport”, chastised Meenakshi as she handed a red dupatta to Mumu.
Mumu rushed inside the bedroom happily, sprinting all the way across the living room. Mayank grew suspicious but checking at Meenakshi who was staring at him with her eyes wide open, lips pursed and hands on her waist, he decided to can his doubt. He then continued reading the newspaper.
Seeing Mayank getting back to the newspaper, Meenakshi turned to the kitchen. It was Sunday and she wanted to cook a special surprise meal.
The time glided away smoothly and it was lunchtime.
“Mumu, Mayank lunchtime. There’s a surprise”, called out Meenakshi.
Bunny, sitting pretty inside the tent, smirked again.
Mayank who was snoring by that time, opened his groggy eyes and dragged himself out from the couch. Rubbing his eyes, he said, “Where is Mumu?”
“She is still in her room”, informed Meenakshi. “Madam is busy attending the parent’s teacher meeting for Bunny. Mayank, please go and get her. I will lay the table for lunch in the meantime”
Mayank turned lazily towards Mumu’s bedroom, calling her out.
“Mumu Madam… Mumu darling… done with playing? Lunchtime now” he said in most persuading voice. It was met with no response. Mayank grew unsure. He started calling out Mumu frantically.
“Mumu, don’t hide, come out. Mumu, where are you? Mumu…”, he called out with his voice growing louder and stern.
“Check-in her tent. She loves to hide there”, informed Meenakshi.
After a moment of silence, Meenakshi heard a scream.
Not knowing what awaited her, Meenakshi rushed to Mumu’s bedroom.
With tent toppled over and lying upside down, Mayank sitting on the floor shattered, there lay Mumu, listless with a red dupatta around her neck and with froth from her mouth. One end of dupatta was snapped between Bunny’s hand and leg. While Mayank sat there sobbing and Meenakshi kneeling down in distress, Bunny smirked again!