She was woken by the hoarse coughing from the next room. She had heard the coughs in her sleep. She sat up with a start. Her husband , Mayur was still fast asleep beside her. She got out of the right side of the bed as was her custom and fidgeted with her slippers. She tied her hair into a knot with a rubber band that lay on the night stand beside her and hobbled over to the room where her 2 year old daughter, Mishti lay coughing on and off. She touched her forehead. It felt warm. She pushed back the hair from her forehead and felt it again. It still felt warm, very warm. She checked the time on the little Barbie clock that hung on the wall opposite her. It was half past six. She sat there wondering if it was too early to call Dr. Bhat, Mishti’s paediatrician.
She got up and went to her own room where her husband was still sleeping. She sat down beside him and gently rubbed his back. “Mayur, wake up”, she whispered into his ear. He groaned from under the covers and shifted position. She prodded him again. “Mayur, Mishti’s running fever.”
He rubbed his left eye and looked at her with his right one. “Did you take her temperature?”, he asked.
He pulled himself out of bed and walked to his daughter’s room. Ria went to the medicine cupboard and took out the digital thermometer and ran back into Mishti’s room. Mayur inserted the thermometer under Mishti’s tongue and looked at his wrist watch. The watch seemed blurred and he couldn’t see a thing. He gestured to Ria to fetch him his glasses.
The thermometer beeped by the time Ria came in with his rimless Calvin Klien spectacles. She had always been a little scared of handling these flimsy rimless spectacles. She had broken quite a few to earn Mayur’s wrath.
“102. It is a little high, but I suppose it’s nothing to worry”, he said looking up at her.
“Do you think we should call Dr. Bhat?”, she asked.
“No, let’s wait and see. I am not surprised she has this fever after playing in that fountain.”
“Mayur, I need to go to office for just a few hours, do you think you will be able to stay back? I’ll be back by lunch time”, said Ria twirling the end of her t-shirt. She couldn’t miss the morning review. She absolutely had to be there.
“No need for me to be here either. She will be fine. Renuka is here, she’ll call us if there’s anything.”
Ria was not so sure. Did she have to be there for the meeting? Couldn’t she cancel? She thought again, why did she have to be there? Of course, the CEO was coming down from Mumbai and he was there for just a day. No, she couldn’t skip that. She reluctantly got ready and asked the maid, Renuka to be by her daughter all day.
She kissed Mishti bye and left with a heavy heart. She promised herself she’d be back by lunch. Oh! If only Mayur could have stayed back, she would be a lot more at peace.