I dropped the paintings on the desk. I hadn’t known about these.. I glanced towards my mum. My mum didn’t look up, she was looking at her hands.
“How long has Pia been drawing these ma?” I was amazed that she hadn’t thought it was important enough for me to know.
“I thought it was just a phase…” My mum rubbed her eyes wearily. I relented. I understood how hard it was for her to deal with this. I squeezed her arm gently and gave her a I understand smile.
“There was one more thing..” I held my breath, what more could there be?
The headmistress smiled, “Pia is going to be alright..” She was looking at me. I stared back at her.
“I just wanted you to know that.. I have seen children go through a lot.. and they always get through it..” She was reassuring me. For the moment, I was grateful to her for trying.
“I’ll keep that in mind..” I picked up Pia’s paintings.. I didn’t know what to make of them. I needed some professional help. We thanked the headmistress for her time and made our way out. Pia had already been sent back to class by then.
Back at home, my father and I settled down at the dining table and looked at each painting carefully. We wanted to be sure, we were not missing something subtle.
We didn’t find anything that we didn’t know already. Finally, I called the numbers the headmistress had given me. A man with a deep resonating voice answered. He laughed when I asked if I could fix an appointment to see him.
“I don’t have so many clients that I need to give appointments.” I had my misgivings about going to a psychiatrist who was proud of the fact that he didn’t have too many clients but the headmistress had spoken highly of him. It wouldn’t hurt to try one session, I thought to myself. I agreed to take Pia over to his office after school got over, but he laughed again.
“I don’t want to intimidate her Khushi.. Lets meet at the ice cream parlor near her school and we’ll see how it goes from here.”
I had found him to be totally unprofessional and strange. My father seemed to share my thoughts but my mum insisted that we at least meet this guy.
That is how Shantanu Ray entered our lives. On my mother’s insistence.