“Pia??” I exclaimed. “But she was the one who refused to come with me. She said she didn’t want to stay with me.”
“She didn’t say that..” My father corrected me, “She said she didn’t want to live with you in the city.”
“Oh..” Things were a lot clearer to me now. I could imagine the scene in my head. Pia telling my dad she wanted to go to the city to bring me back. The thought gave me the warm fuzzies.
I turned back to look at Pia, who was still sleeping peacefully.
“She’s a complicated child..” I commented.
“Can you blame her? She’s been through a lot.” There was a long silence as we thought about Pia. What it would feel like to be eight years old and to watch your parents die. I shuddered involuntarily. My father noticed, and gripped my hand. I could feel his strength flow into me and I relaxed a bit.
“You ok now?” My father asked after a while.
I nodded and placed my hands on my lap.
“Does she talk about it dad?” I didn’t have to explain what that “It” was.
“No. Never. She just runs away when we bring up the topic. But I’m sure she thinks about it all the time.” He paused for a moment, then he said suddenly, “Pia’s very fond of you..”
I looked up, surprised. We all knew that.
“I know dad.” I was wondering where this conversation was leading.
“She probably sees her mother in you.” I didn’t say anything. I had considered the possibility that Pia didn’t actually want me, she wanted a replica of her mother.
My fathers face softened, ‘’I didn’t mean to hurt you Khushi.. I just wanted you to be aware.”
“Thanks dad.. How is Pia doing otherwise?” I was trying to change the topic. Thankfully, my father went with the flow. “Where should I start? Her academics are down the drain, she doesn’t have any friends, her nightmares are very frequent but worst of all is that she doesn’t interact with anybody.”
I sank deeper in the seat, wondering how I was going to get Pia out of it. I was getting quite depressed with all this talk. I needed something else on my mind.
“Tell me something funny dad.” My dad looked at me sharply. On seeing my state, he began
“Have I ever told you about the time you and your sister ran away from home? ” He let out a loud guffaw. I had heard the story before, but suddenly I felt like listening to it again.
My dad told me a number of stories that day.. Each one of them funnier than the other. This was the sister I wanted to remember. The one who brought a smile to my face every time I thought of her.
In the middle, I turned around to check on Pia. She was wide awake. I had no idea when she had gotten up. I tried to decode the look on her
phase face, but I couldn’t.
I wondered what all she had heard.