“We’ll go back”, she said to Mayur. Her parents’ last rites were performed and Ria was even more disturbed than ever. She feared for her daughter and Mayur more than she mourned for her parents. She didn’t want to lose the only two people left in her life now. “Yeah, we’ll sell this house and go”, he said.
“We’ll do the selling from there, let’s get out of here”, she pleaded. He looked at her and stroked her head. “Ria, we will get out of here, but we’ll get out of here for good, we’ll wind up everything and then leave”, he said in a firm voice.
“You stay back here and wind up whatever you want, my daughter and I are leaving”, she said and got up to go to her room. She stopped outside the door. She saw Mishti standing by the window talking to someone. She went up behind her and saw someone leaving in a hurry.
“Mishti, who were you talking to?”, she asked squatting in front of her.
“That same man who was here yesterday”, said Mishti.
“What did he want now?”, she asked sternly.
“He said Nana and Nani are missing me very badly and want to see me. Where have Nana and Nani gone mamma?”
“They are with God baby. They are with Dada and Dadi”, she said pulling her close to her.
“I want to go too. That nice uncle said that they are in a happy place.”
“No, you cannot go there. And what have I told you about talking to strangers?”, she chided her.
“He said he was your friend from school mamma. Sanjay uncle.”
Ria stared stupified. No, Sanjay was not going to take her only child away now. She hugged Mishti. “Baby, promise me, you will never ever talk to anyone unless I say so”, she said.
“Ok”, said Mishti. “Can I talk to daddy?”, she asked naughtily. She patted her and nodded.
She heard laughter inside her head. She was very very worried and even more scared now.
She could not sleep all night; she kept looking at Mayur and Mishti to observe if there was anything unusual. She fell asleep a little after day break but woke up within an hour.
She was very jumpy the whole day. She never let Mayur and Mishti out of her sight. Mayur was calling a few real estate agencies and trying to get a good price on the house. “Just sell it to anyone”, she said. “I don’t care even if we don’t sell it, let’s just lock this place up and leave”, she said her voice shaking.
Mayur could sense his wife was on the verge of a nervous breakdown now and he didn’t want to take any more risks. He called the travel agent to book tickets.
“We have no tickets till Tuesday”, he said covering the mouthpiece.
“Today is what, Friday, ok tell him to get us the earliest possible flight out of here”, she said.
Mayur nodded and got back to his travel agent.
Ria cleaned up the house and packed all her things and Mishti’s things. She went into her parents’ bedroom and looked around. She sat on their bed and remembered the numerous nights she had sat there listening to stories that her parents told her. She saw the white board and remembered the lessons her father used to teach her during exams. She looked out of the window at the garden her mother had so tenderly nurtured. She ran her hand over everything they had touched when they were alive. Such love they had for each other. Her mother had passed away in the hospital. Mayur had called her father to inform him, when the call didn’t go through he had texted him and her father had died instantly of a heart attack. What an idiot Mayur was! Such a delicate news and he dropped it like a a bomb on her father. She had never seen anyone love another person as much as her parents loved one another. She doubted if she loved Mayur to this extent. She looked at the computer through which her parents used to chat with her every day. She had such fond memories of this house and now she was going to leave all this behind forever.
She sat there in the room crying. Mishti sat beside her looking at her helplessly. She had never seen her mother cry so much. Her mother, once rosy cheeked and bubbly had turned into a a pale dark circle eyed frail, weak woman who was always crying and irritable. She wanted her mommy back. She wiped Ria’s tears with her tiny fingers and kissed her over and over again. She didn’t know what was wrong and didn’t know what else to do to console her mother. Ria hugged Mishti and cried even more. Mayur walked in and saw her crying. He held her close, there was nothing else he could do to console her either. He knew it was best to let her cry as much as she wanted, she would recuperate faster that ways.