“Stay here for a while till I talk to Khushi.. If you need anything, just ask the lady over there..” He pointed towards a woman sitting at the reception.
“Come with me..” He led me to his office. He shut the door behind him and watched me fiddle with a paper weight on his table..
“What are you so nervous about?” He asked, breaking the silence that was there in the room.
“Nothing..” I smiled awkwardly, “I was just wondering why you wanted to talk to me..”
“Well, for starters.. I wanted to tell you how this is going to be. The process that is.. My main focus will of course be Pia. About why she gets nightmares, why she has fluctuating mood swings and all those things.. But..” He paused for a while.. “But.. I will need to take a closer look at you and your parents. Its all inter-related. If Pia does feel better and go from here, I don’t want her to get depressed because you guys are sad. Get it?”
I nodded.. It made sense. Pia must be getting influenced by our actions and our moods too.
He smiled suddenly, I guess he was expecting me to argue on that part and I hadn’t.
“So.. we will start with you.. ” He continued.
I steeled myself. For Pia. For Pia. For Pia. I repeated to myself.
As though he sensed my apprehensiveness, Shantanu put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and said “Don’t worry, it’ll be easy..”
“Ready?” He asked.
I wasn’t, but what choice did I have.
“So.. why didn’t you go for your job interview?” The question was a complete surprise to me.
“How in the world did you get to know!!?” The question was out before I could stop myself.
“It’s a small town. Word gets around.” He smiled.
“I don’t see what that has to do with Pia.” I said huffily.
Shantanu’s face darkened. “Khushi.. you are not helping! For Pia to move on, you have to move on! And I’m just trying to understand why you are not!!”
For a psychiatrist he was pretty short tempered. He glared at me for some time and then turned around frustrated.
I started slowly,“I wanted to be there for Pia all the time.” My voice was flat, devoid of emotions. I was dreading the part when he would force me to revisit the accident. So I was trying to reign in the emotions.
Shantanu turned around, surprised that I had answered. He pulled up a chair, “What do you do when Pia goes to school?” he asked gently.
“I wait for her to come back.” Even to my ears that sounded pathetic. I looked up at Shantanu expecting to see pity in his eyes. There was nothing, he was watching me carefully. I chided myself for being so silly. Of course, he was watching carefully. That was his job!!
I quickly glanced down, preferring
He asked me a couple of questions which I answered in a monosyllabic way. I wanted to help, but something about his way just put me off. He seemed to realize that I wasn’t going to be very receptive towards his questions anymore and after a couple of minutes he suggested that we bring Pia in.
He rang his receptionist and asked her to get Pia. We waiting in silence. Awkwardness was heavy in the air but neither of us tried to reduce it.
Pia entered, her earlier excitement diminished by the cold reception that we had got from Shantanu. She started walking towards me, Shantanu blocked her way.
“So did you have fun outside?” Shantanu was back to his old happy self. The transformation had seemed so effortless.
Pia smiled carefully, as though trying to make sure he didn’t go back to being all serious.
“Pia.. We are going to have a nice chat today.” I stared at him, surely, he wasn’t just going to ask her questions like he asked me. There had to be some subtlety involved! After all she was just 8 years old. I opened my mouth to protest when Shantanu, anticipating my actions put up a hand to silence me.
“Okaaay.” I could sense the reluctance in Pia's voice.
“Tell me about your parents accident.” I almost collapsed. I turned to look at Pia anxiously. Why was he asking her those things. I had already told him everything!
Pia seemed quite unperturbed by his question. She frowned deeply, as though trying to figure out what to say.
And then she started talking..