“Ummm..” I tried to cover up for Prachi’s absence, “She must be around here somewhere.” I offered lamely.
“Yes, I think I saw her.” Mrs. Gurung’s interest in my sister faded and then she led me right in the middle of the ladies circle.
I felt as though I was handling a press conference, with questions being asked from all directions.
“Don’t be scared, they all want to help.” She whispered in my ears as she abandoned my side.
Help. Ya right!
“Who raised you?” one woman asked me. I couldn’t remember her name.
“I was very lucky to be adopted by a wonderful family.” As I said it, I realized how true it was. I had been extremely fortunate. What would I have been, had I not been adopted?
“Why did they tell you?” Was another question thrown at me.
I hesitated. All I had wanted to tell them was that I was looking for my parents who might have stayed in the house next door.. I hadn’t agreed to answer all their questions and I failed to understand why they expected me to do so.
I looked around at the expectant faces in the audience and saw Mrs. Gurung. “Answer!”, she mouthed.
I shook my head. As nice as their intentions could be, I didn’t want to share my deepest thoughts with complete strangers. Prachi was right, I would get nothing from this except a few moments of their attention.
I could tell I was nothing more than some form of entertainment for them. By the time they finished stuffing their faces with tea and biscuits that was now being offered, they would have forgotten all about me.
“I have to go now.” I said suddenly. I wasn’t up to answering their questions. “Prachi!” I called out.
“What happened Ira? Tell them, maybe they know something.” Mrs. Gurung was by my side in a jiffy. I shook off her hand off my arm. Suddenly, I was feeling claustrophobic. “Prachi!!” I called out again. I had to leave.
“Ira, maybe you should come inside.” Prachi had appeared magically by my side, shielding me from the rest.
I looked up at her, confused.
“Just come.” She held me by the hand and took me inside.
“Prachi! What are you doing? We can’t just go walking inside somebody else’s house!” I was mortified.
“Oh hush! I was inside all this while. And..” She stopped mid sentence. I turned towards her expectantly.
“She knew your mom.” I stopped dead in my tracks.
“How does she know that that woman is my mother?” I asked softly
“Well, that’s why she wants to take a look at you. Now come!” Prachi dragged me into a smaller room.
At the far end of the room, a television was on and a lady was sitting on the couch in front of it. From where I was standing, I could see the mop of grey hair on her head. She turned around as she heard us approach. She didn’t look very old. Maybe 50.
Her eyes locked on to my face as a gasp escaped her mouth.
“Mili!” She said.