It was pretty late when we got home. My mum was waiting by the gate, scanning the road for us.. She hugged me tightly, “I’m so glad you came back." I think she was happy that Pia and I were both going to stay near her.
We left all the stuff in the car boot.. there would be plenty of time tomorrow to unpack. I took Pia to her room, and put her in bed. I thought of sleeping in Pia’s room in case she had nightmares, but decided against it.
I settled down on my bed and before my head could hit the pillow, I was fast asleep.
In the middle of the night, I felt some movement in the room. I opened my eyes lazily and saw Pia standing near the door. I put out my hand to her and wordlessly, Pia cuddled in beside me. I smiled as I remembered the last night Pia had slept in my room and I put pillows around her to make sure she didn’t move all over the bed.
The next morning, my mum came in and took Pia away. I stayed in bed, I needed some sleep and besides, I had nowhere to go. By the time I got up, Pia had already gone to school.
I moved all my stuff to my room except the box Pia had labeled. That, I moved to Pia’s room. I was curious to know what she was going to do with it.
I was scanning through the local papers, looking for a job when my mum walked in. She suggested I see the editor. The local newspaper seemed to consist only of birthdays, weddings and obituaries.
I sighed.. something was better than nothing. I fixed an appointment for an interview with the newspaper’s editor. He had sounded surprised that someone wanted to give an interview for his newspaper. What was I getting myself into?
The day passed quickly, and by the time Pia came, my room was almost done. It had been a challenge to add my new stuff to my things when I was little. Every little toy had a memory attached to it. I couldn’t bear to part with it.
As soon as she came, Pia ran up the stairs to her room. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the box. She took one step near it, and then as though she didn’t see it, marched off in the opposite directed. But I knew she was going to open it eventually.
“How was school today?” I asked her like any normal mother would have asked.
Pia held out a note. I didn’t know how to react. Should I reprimand her for getting a note or should I be comforting?
I was confused about the role that I was going to play in Pia’s life. Was I going to be the cool aunt? Or was I supposed to be a mother? I didn’t want Pia to think I was trying to take her mother’s place. Neither did I want my parents to think I was taking this responsibility lightly. I had to find a balance and I had to find it quick.