Pia wasn’t bothered by my dilemma in the least. She went about her happy way, unaware of my inner turmoil. I looked down at the note in my hand. Maybe it wasn’t as bad this time. I opened it.
Pia was involved in a fight today… the note started. I turned towards Pia. She didn’t look as though she had been involved in a fight. There were no scuff marks on her. I glanced back at the note.
She picked a fight with a child two years younger to her. Needless to say, she had the upper hand. We do not know what caused Pia to fight, but we do not tolerate this kind of behavior in our school. Please accompany your ward to school tomorrow and meet the headmistress.
I reread it to ensure I hadn’t read it wrong. No, there had been no mistake. Our sweet li’l Pia was a different person at school. I made a quick decision. There was no way I could be lenient about this.
“What is this Pia?” I asked sharply.
Pia froze on hearing the tone of my voice. She turned and looked up at me confused.
“Did you hit someone?” I raised my voice a little. Pia had to know that this behavior was not acceptable.
I could see tears brimming in Pia’s eyes. I wasn’t handling this very well.
I gave up the act of acting tough. I wasn’t made of strong stuff. I put my arms around her and gently wiped her tears.
“Why did you fight Pia?” I asked tenderly.
She was sobbing now.. Her tiny body shaking with every sob. I could only wonder what had transpired between her and the other kid that had upset Pia this much.
“I didn’t want to hit him..”
“Then why did you?” I could tell Pia was genuinely sorry. Pia remained silent.
“Pia? What is it?” I was perplexed at her silence. Who was she trying to protect?
“Am I in trouble?” Pia’s only concern right now was whether she was going to be punished.
“I don’t know Pia. I don’t know what your headmistress is going to tell me. Is there something you should tell me first?” I couldn’t believe I couldn’t even get her to confide in me.
Pia shook her head slowly. Whatever it was, she wasn’t going to tell me. I suddenly felt angry and hurt with her behavior. I had given everything up for her and Pia couldn’t even confess to me.
I walked out of the room swiftly. I needed some advice and I went straight to my mother.
My mother was pretty cool about the whole thing.
“Calm down Khushi..” She said when I told her about Pia keeping things from me. I glared at her, was she going to take Pia’s side?
“Khushi.. When you had a problem, you came straight to me. Where is Pia supposed to go?” My mother, with one question, threw all my arguments out of the window. She was right, as mothers always are.
“Pia doesn’t see you as the motherly figure..” Then after a moment she added. “Yet..”
“Give her some time..” My mum brushed a stray strand off my face and I realized how small familiar gestures make the world feel a lot less intimidating. Pia had lost everything that was familiar to her and obviously she would take time to get used to the new changes. I would have to be patient.
A little arm encircled my waist and I heard Pia’s voice.
“Are you mad at me? Will you go away again?” She was sniffling a little.
I turned around and cupped her little face in my palm and said in a surprisingly confident voice.
“No Pia.. I’m never going away again.”