Pia smiled in her sleep and turned over. I sighed, it would have to wait till tomorrow. I kissed her on her forehead and went to my room.
Sleep was the last thing on my mind. I lay there on the bed, thinking how my life was about to change. The thought didn’t scare me anymore. I guess that’s a good thing.
I tossed around the bed, trying to find a comfortable spot. Finally, exasperated, I sat up in the bed. I was wondering what to do when I heard footsteps coming towards my room. The door opened and Pia entered clutching her blanket.
“Why are you still awake baby? Did something wake you?” I asked
“Can I sleep here?” Pia asked, yawning.
“Of course, you can.”
Pia climbed on to the bed and snuggled in besides me. Within minutes she was asleep.
I stayed up, running my hand through her hair for a long time. The only sound I could hear was Pia’s deep even breathing and eventually, I felt sleep envelope me.
I woke up early the next morning. Pia had made herself quite comfortable in my bed. I was almost on the edge, a little further and I would have been on the floor. I tried to get up, when I felt a little hand on me. In her sleep, Pia had put her arm around me. I lifted her arm carefully. Pia stirred, but didn’t wake up.
I got off the bed and almost laughed when I saw the way Pia was sleeping. Almost diagonally across the bed. No wonder, I didn’t have any place.
I stretched a little and then went down the stairs. My parents were early risers and they were already up and about.
“Goooooooood morning..” I said in a sing song voice.
“You look like you had a great time last night.” My mother smiled. I could tell she was really happy the way Pia and I had bonded.
“Uh-huh. Yep yep. We had a blast.” I picked up my coffee and recounted our night to my mum and dad.
They smiled and laughed as I described each ride. I finished talking but they both were still looking at me. The unspoken question obvious on their faces.
“No..” I shook my head. “She slept before I could ask her.”
“What would you like for breakfast?” My mum asked suddenly. The question surprised me and I looked at her. She was looking straight through me. I turned around. Pia had just entered the room. She stood there rubbing her eyes.
“Good morning Pia!” I said in a cheerful voice.
Pia didn’t reply. She came towards me and clambered on to my lap. I put my arms around her and hugged her tightly.
I could imagine what was going on through my parent’s head. Pia used to do the same thing with my sister.
“What are you looking at?” Pia asked my parents, breaking the moment. I don’t think they realized that they were staring at us.
“You had a good time yesterday? ” My father asked her, trying to change the topic.
A wide smile broke across Pia’s face as she remembered last night.
“Yes!!” she exclaimed. “We had ice cream for dinner!!! And we..and we went for a movie!! And we went to a fair!! And we went on the roller coaster!!”
Pia was talking nonstop and it was hard not to be affected by her excitement. Pretty soon, she had my parents hanging on to her every word.
“We’ll all go together next time.. Won’t we Khushi??” Pia turned around to face me. I couldn’t believe this was the same little girl I had met yesterday. Pia’s face was shining with happiness. If only I had come earlier, I could have saved her from being unhappy for so long.
“Are you ready for your surprise??” I had to ask her now, when she was in such a good mood.
“Surprise!!!!” Pia jumped off my lap and held out her hand as though expecting a gift.
I clutched her hand.
“Pia..” I began slowly.
“Where is it??” Impatience was a trait, she had inherited from my brother in law.
“Pia.. you are going to stay with me from now on!!” I put out my arms, waiting for her to react.
We all watched her expectantly.
“You are going to stay here with me?” Pia asked tentatively.
“No Pia..” I looked at my mother for support, this was going horribly wrong. My mum shook her head. This was between me and Pia.
“You are going to come stay with me.. you’ll like that right?” I was struggling with words.
Pia took two steps back, looked at my parents and then back at me.
She uttered one word and then turned around and left.