Things hadn’t gone the way I had planned. I hadn’t intended it to be so harsh, so bitter. I wish I could take back some of the things I said. But what was done, was done. I turned to leave the room.
As I walked away from my parents, the impracticality of my decision hit me.
How was I going to raise a child? I didn’t know anything about it! What if I did something wrong?
It had been so easy to just say that I’ll take care of her. Raising a child required more than just feeding, clothing and housing it. A child needed to be nurtured. I had seen my sister completely devote herself to Pia. I didn’t have it in me to do that. I just couldn’t.
I hadn’t thought about anything.. About what the consequences of my decisions could be. It would be dreadful for Pia too. Leaving her grandparents and all her friends. How selfish had I been? All this while, I had thought, that it’ll be best for Pia if she came with me.. Whereas, in reality, I was taking a child away from everything she held close to her heart and putting her in strange city in a new school..
Maybe, it was not too late.. I could just tell ma that I was wrong. And that I’ll come visit Pia as often as I could.
Yeah, that sounded reasonable.
“Khushi?” My mum stood at the doorway. She looked calm, not like the woman I had met downstairs. I was relieved she wasn’t mad at me.
“You ok ma?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. “ There was an awkward pause and then she said.. “ I’m sorry Khushi, I think I said some things I shouldn’t have said.”
“I’m sorry too ma. You know I would never do anything to hurt you.”
“I know Khushi.” She reached out and placed her hand on my cheek.
“What do you mean?” My mum suddenly looked worried. “You mean money wise?”
“No ma..” I hesitated, “The responsibility. How am I going to take care of Pia? I can barely take care of myself! I mean, what if something happens, and I don’t know what to do. Pia is so young. Who’s going to take care of her when I’m not at home? Who’s going to take her to school and get her back safely. I can’t leave her anywhere.. I don’t .. ”
“Sshhh Khushi..” My mum silenced me and ran her hand over my head trying to calm me.
I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply for sometime. My mother’s soothing touch quickly calmed my frayed nerves. “Now tell me, what’s the real problem? ”
What could I tell her? That I was running away again?
I decided to stick with the truth.
“I’m scared ma..”
My mother smiled, “Its okay
be to be scared Khushi. I won’t lie to you. It’s a big responsibility, but I think you’ll do just fine.”
“But ma..” Her reassurances seemed very hollow to me. I didn’t trust myself.
“Khushi.. You’re the closest Pia has to a mother now.. And you were right, she needs you. Why are you doubting yourself? If you are ever in two-minds, you can always call me and I’ll be there. Everything else is secondary. The only thing you need to know is that you want to do this.”
“Think about it.” She kissed me on the cheek and left me alone with my thoughts.
I needed some distraction. I picked up some photo album lying around and started flipping through it. I stopped on a picture of my sister. I had clicked it when she was in one of her pensive moods. She was looking straight at me. I traced the outline of her face with my finger..
What should I do sis?
I sighed and turned over to the next picture. My sister was holding Pia. It looked like my sister was trying to hold onto Pia who was trying to get out of my sister’s arms. A smile touched my lips and I flipped to the next picture.
Pia was on my lap, sleeping peacefully. I stared at the picture for a long time. Pia didn’t look alien on my lap. She looked like she belonged.
I turned over to the first picture of my sister, then to Pia’s and my sister’s picture and finally to Pia’s and my picture. I felt oddly comforted by the order in which the pictures had appeared. Maybe it was a sign.
I shut the photo album.
Was I sure about it? Hell no.
Did I want this? More than anything else in the world.