That night Ria and her father decided to stay in the hospital with Mishti who was supposed to have an enema the next morning. Her mother had gone to be with Adila. Ria was dozing off on the guest bed while her father was sitting and listening to the late night news. She heard a loud laughter and woke up with a start. She looked about her sleepily. Her father was glued to the TV. She assumed that the laughter must have come from the TV. “Papa will you please reduce the volume a bit?”, she asked.
“Oh sorry sorry”, he said and reduced the volume to a minimum. “I wonder why they keep the TVs so high in hospital rooms. You have to literally sprain your neck trying to watch something.”
“It’s kept that ways so that the patient can see it lying down Papa”, she said managing to smile.
“Sad thing that has happened to that Adila girl. She has no one now.”, her father said.
“Hmm”, said Ria remembering the day’s happenings. She too was in shock.
Her phone rang. She was relieved to see that it was Mayur. She choked upon hearing his voice.
“You ok?”, he asked. “No Mayur. I want to see you. Please come back”, she cried.
Her father snatched the phone from her. “Hello? Mayur? Papa here. Arre, nothing to worry beta. Mishti fell sick again and Ria got worked up. You know how sensitive she is and she gets worked up even if Mishtu sneezes..ha ha ha.. no no nothing to worry. Yeah yeah I am here beside her of course. What’s that? Oh ha ha ha no no, that is ok. Yeah. Yeah. Ok then. I’ll see you soon. You take care of yourself ok. Yeah, ok beta. Bye.”
He stared at her. “Why must you do that?”, he asked angrily. “Mayur is so far away, you cry on the phone and ask him to come, you have any idea what you would put him through? He is not even in the country. Don’t do that. Always play it down. Haven’t I taught you anything?”
“Sorry”, she said sniffing.
“Wipe those tears now. He is coming tomorrow”, said her father grinning. Ria’s eyes lit up. That was the best news she had heard since she had come there. She thanked god.
“Try getting some sleep now”, said her father. She got up and went next to her father and hugged him. “Papa”, she said.
“What is it beta?”, he asked stroking her head.
“I am scared”, she said.
“I am scared too.”
“Well, for you. The way you were acting last night, I didn’t want to bring it up, but beta you seem to be very disturbed of late. Your behavior last night nearly tore my heart”, he said.
Ria saw tears in her father’s eyes for the second time. The first time was when she was getting married. He had lied to her that they were tears of happiness but he was sad that his daughter was leaving him. He had remembered what he had heard years ago that once she is married she would no longer be his little girl. He had cried like a baby again that night. And now, he was very worried about his daughter. He didn’t want any harm coming to her. She just hugged him and they both sat that ways for a long time. She fell asleep in his arms and he sat all night watching over his daughter and his granddaughter.