The Eucalyptus Grove Ch-23

Ria and her father went home a little after lunch so that Mishti could take a little rest. Mayur stayed back in the hospital. 

Ria had a quick shower and put Mishti to sleep. Her father also took a nap. She went to the kitchen and started making dinner. She and her father decided to stay in the hospital that night while Mayur and Mishti would be at home. 

She heard her father talking to someone over the phone. She strained her ears to make out what was he talking. But he only seemed to be saying “Yes, yes.”

She went to the living room just as her father put the phone down. He looked at her. 

“What is it Papa?”, she asked.

“Ria, come”, he said in a hurried tone.

“No, I WILL NOT COME”, she screamed and threw a water jug in the direction of her father.

“What is the matter with you?”, he scolded.

“I will not come with you”, she said menacingly.

“Your mother has opened her eyes, Mayur called to say that and wants us over at the hospital. What do you mean you will not come?”, he asked.

She felt a little stupid.

“Is everything alright?”, he asked. She nodded, but she knew nothing was alright. She was shaking all over. Her father looked at her feeling very sad for his daughter.

“Ria, if something is bothering you, please tell me”, he pleaded. He could sense his daughter’s state of mind just be looking at her face. 

“I am fine”, she said.

“No you are not. You think I have not noticed it? What is it Ria?”, he coaxed.

She buried her face in her father’s chest as her tears threatened to pour out any minute. 

“It’s Sanjay isn’t it?”, he asked.

She nodded, her face still hidden in his chest.

“I know all about it, your mother told me last night. It’s hard to believe, but I can see what it is doing to you. We’ll find a way out of this , don’t worry. Let’s go see your mother for now and we’ll find a way out, maybe we’ll all leave this place and go elsewhere”, he said. She felt comforted.

“I was telling Mayur too papa, that lets all get out of here, we’ll all go to Mysore for good.”

“Ok, calm down now go wash your face and let’s go see your mother”, he kissed her forehead.

“I’ll get the car out, you get Mishti ready and meet me outside.”

“It looks like it will rain”, she said looking at the sky that was now overcast. 

“Yes, let’s hit the road before it pours”, he said.

Ria went in to get Mishti ready. She could already hear the thunder. She saw streaks of lightning light up the sky as well. It suddenly became very dark. She debated if she ought to take Mishti in this weather. But she couldn’t even leave her here. She missed Naisha very much, had she been here, she could have left Mishti with her. 

She rummaged through Mishti’s suitcase and cursed herself for not getting her jackets. She wrapped her in her jacket. It engulfed her but it didn’t matter as long as she was well covered.

“I am a monster” she growled and charged towards Ria. She laughed for the first time in days. 

“Mom, you are  supposed to be scared”, she said pouting. “I love this little monster, why would I be scared?”, she asked kissing her in her tummy as she squealed with laughter.

“Is Nani going to be ok?”, she asked.

“As a matter of fact, she already is. She is asking for Mittu”, said Ria combing her hair and tying it with a Dora rubber band. She put a little hairband to keep the hair from falling into Mishti’s eyes. It was time Mishti had a haircut, Ria thought. 

“I want to see Nani”, she said.

“Yes we are going to the hospital now to see Nani”, she said. She lifted her and went out. The car was nowhere to be seen outside. She went into the garage, her father was sitting in the car, motionless. The cell phone in his hand was lit up.

“Papa”, she called out. 

There was no response. “Papa”, she called out again.

There was still no response. The car door was locked. Her father was staring at the road in front of him , his eyes cold. She left Mishti by the car and ran in to get the spare keys. She came out to see Mishti talking to someone. She ran out but by then the man Mishti was talking to left. “Who was that?”, she asked her

“I don’t know. He said Nana and Nani have gone to a happy place and he asked if I’d like to join them. I said Nana is in the car, he laughed and walked away when he heard you come.”

Ria felt a chill run through her spine. She opened the door and her father’s motionless body fell over her. The cellphone in his hand had a text message from Mayur, “Ma no more.”

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