Our success didn’t go unnoticed.. Soon small city enterprises were flocking to us for advertising. Things were looking up. Prasad hired a couple of workers to fix up some parts of the building so that we wouldn’t have to vacate. Suraj and I busied ourselves with hiring two more employees who would help us go through the vast number of requests we had received. Seemed like everyone out there had a story and they wanted it to be told.
To celebrate our success, we all met up for dinner. Prasad’s family, all our story contributors, even Suraj turned up with a lady friend.. Pia was the darling of everyone’s eyes. She was literally blossoming in the attention. Many people mistook her for my daughter, I didn’t blame them, the family resemblance was uncanny.
When it was time to say our goodbyes, Pia was curled up in my arms and everyone came forward to give her a kiss goodbye.
“Come around sometime..” Prasad said gently to Pia, ruffling her hair. I promised Prasad that I will some day.
All in all, it was a good get together. It had brought all of us closer, even Suraj had warmed up to me. Pia had been in her element, being all cute and adorable.
As I tucked Pia in for the night, I felt different. I recalled all those people who had walked up to me and told me what a beautiful daughter I had. I had tried correcting some of them, but gave up after a while. It was too long a story to tell everyone and really, in all effect , I was Pia’s mother. I repeated the words to myself “Pia’s mother”.
I knew I couldn’t be Di but at least I wasn’t doing such a bad job of filling her boots.
The next morning, I woke up with a new found responsibility of being a mum. If my mum and dad noticed a change in me, they didn’t mention it but I could tell from their smiles that they had.
I pretended not to notice their scrutiny and continued fussing over Pia.
“Can I come today! Can I pleeeeeeeeeeease come today!” I laughed at Pia’s enthusiasm. I didn’t know what Prasad had told her about our office. I am sure she’s wouldn’t be this excited if she knew what a derelict it was.
“Okay okay.. you can come today..” Pia put her arms up in glee but I stopped her.
“But only after school, after you meet Shantanu.. okay?” Pia thought for a while..
“Can Shantanu come too?” She asked.
“Only if he wants to.. I don’t want you to force him..” My words were pointless, Shantanu was so charmed by Pia, she wouldn’t have any trouble convincing him to come. And I wasn’t mistaken. In the afternoon, Shantanu called to tell me that he was bringing Pia over. I teased him about being a big softie and laughed uncontrollably when he hung up in a big huff.
I waited impatiently through the day for them. Even I was excited about having Pia come over and seeing me in office. I wanted her to see what I did, be proud of me.. Something she could maybe talk to her friends about..
Finally, they both came..