I took a very different Pia home that night. She looked more mature than her eight years. I kept glancing at her sideways, but she was lost in some deep thought.
My mum was waiting for us outside. She was anxious to know how the first real session had been. I shook my head to indicate that things hadn’t gone great. Actually, I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t tell whether making Pia remember everything was a good thing or not.
My mum opened Pia’s door and picked her up. Pia didn’t protest. She held on to my mum as she carried Pia inside, gently stroking her hair.
Pia hadn’t uttered a word since we had left Shantanu’s office. We sat around the dinner table, trying to
dram draw Pia out of the shell she had retreated into. But Pia didn’t say anything. After dinner, she slipped into her room, claiming she was tired.
My mum and dad watched her leave, concern written all over their faces. They bombarded me with questions once Pia left. What happened there??? They wanted to know. What could I tell them, I hardly knew myself what had transpired between Pia and Shantanu.
After trying to explain to my parents that I had no idea, for which I got a lot of flak, I walked up the stairs to my room. I stopped outside Pia’s door. I could tell she was awake. I pressed my ear against the door but couldn’t tell whether she was crying or not.
I knocked gently. No response. After a couple of seconds I knocked again. Pia didn’t answer, neither she open the door. I turned the knob gently and peeked inside. Pia was sitting cross legged in front of a carton. She held a pair of scissors in her hand.
“Pia.. What are you doing with those scissors?” I asked cautiously. The sharp object in her hand had prickled the hair on my neck. All kinds of not so nice scenarios flashed through my mind.
Pia looked up at me innocently and pointed at the carton. “I want to open that, but I can’t..”
What box was she trying to open. I looked past her and at the carton in front of her. It was labeled “Not to be opened.” It was the box containing Di’s stuff.
“Why do you want to open it?” I took the scissors from her. I didn’t mind opening the carton for her, but I wanted to know why she wanted to open it.
“Shantanu says” She said gravely, “When you fear something, you should face it.”
“But why are you afraid of the box??” I stopped trying to pry the carton open and looked at Pia who was fidgeting. I could tell she was uncomfortable the way this conversation was going.
Pia hesitated . “This is the last box I have which has mommy’s things.”
I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have to, I understood what she was trying to say. Most of Di’s clothes had already been given away. We had kept only memorabilia. But this carton contained things that Di had personally picked out, had worn.
When I thought of it that way, the scissor felt heavy in my hand too. I placed the scissor down. After a while, I felt a little hand on mine. Pia smiled at me. I smiled back.
We would open it together.