We opened the carton carefully. It was as precious as some lost treasure for us.
The first thing that came out was a belt.. I remembered that belt. It was Di’s favorite and she never let me use it. So I had done the only thing I could to get it.. I had stolen it from her. I remember how furious she was when she found out it was missing. She ransacked my house looking for it but she never found it. All the time she was looking for it, it was around my waist. I remember sitting very still so that she wouldn’t notice the belt around me.
Pia was rolling with laughter as I described the incident to her. Her unrestrained laugh caught my mum and dad’s attention and they joined in, telling Pia stories about her mum and dad. About how they had met, how they had fallen in love, how happy they had been when they got to know they were going to have Pia.
One by one, we pulled things out. Everything seemed to have a story around it and before we knew it, the carton was empty but that’s ok. It had served its purpose. We all smiled at each other. The story sharing had somehow brought us all closer. Tired and emotionally spent, we all went to our rooms.
I stayed up for a while, waiting for Pia to crawl into my bed. But she didn’t. I got up and went to her room to check on her and saw her sleeping soundly.
A sudden noise made me turn around. My father was standing behind me. He smiled at me. Both of us had had the same concern about Pia. He put his arm around me and I leaned back.
We watched her sleep for a while, almost afraid, that if we moved, Pia would wake up.
The next morning passed pleasantly. Pia was happy and chirpy. Her upbeat mood made all of us think that things had changed for the better.
When I went to pick her up from school, she didn’t have a note from her teacher. I was amazed at what Shantanu had done within a span of three weeks.. To me it seemed that Pia was completely back to normal.
As usual, I took her to Shantanu’s, all happy. Once Pia was out of the earshot, I congratulated Shantanu on what a great job he had done.
He gave me questioning look.
“Pia’s all okay now..” I explained. Shantanu smiled indulgently at my naïveté’s.
“She’s on the right track.. But she’s nowhere being completely okay.. ” I looked over at Pia chatting happily with the receptionist. She looked perfectly fine to me.
“But she didn’t get a note today!!” I couldn’t understand why Shantanu was being so skeptical.
“Khushi..” Shantanu explained patiently, “Did it occur to you that maybe, she didn’t give you the note or maybe, she just didn’t get caught today? It could be anything..”
Was he accusing my Pia of lying to me??? No I would not believe him!