Mili?? I looked around, confused.
The woman got off the couch and walked towards me, her eyes never leaving my face.
I started backing away as she put out her hand to touch my face.
Prachi stood behind me, blocking my way.
As the woman’s fingers touched my face, I closed my eyes momentarily. When I reopened them, she was smiling at me.
“Come with me.” She said.
I turned towards Prachi, who nodded encouragingly. The lady led me to her room and made me sit down. “I’ll be right back, stay right here.” She smiled kindly at me and went out of the room
Prachi stood at the door.
“What’s going on?” I asked her. I was finding the whole thing a little too eerie and creepy for my liking.
Prachi shrugged, “I have no idea.” She said.
We waited impatiently in the small room. I tried not to get my hopes too high. But it was hard.
Don’t, don’t don’t, I chanted to myself, but I knew it was a lost cause. The lady knew something! I could feel it in my bones. As a small smile appeared on my face, Prachi shook her head disapprovingly. She too, didn’t want me to get too excited about it. But I guess my smile was contagious, and pretty soon, Prachi too was bubbling with excitement. She came over and sat next to me, holding my hand.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the woman appeared with a stack of old albums.
Albums! Photo albums! She might be having my parents’ pictures! I quivered with excitement.
“Wait,” She smiled at me as I put out my hands to take the photo albums from her, as a little child would do.
She put on her glasses and opened one album, looked at a picture and then peered at my face.
It required all of my self control not to snatch the album from her.
She wiped her glasses, slowly and carefully looked again and then shook her head.
I caught my breath, and shut my eyes tightly. I didn’t want to hear her say it.
“If you’re not Mili’s daughter,” I heard her say “I need to visit my optometrist again.” She placed the album on my lap.
Surprised, I opened my eyes and quickly glanced at the picture in front of me.
It was a black and white picture, two young girls maybe aged 10 years were smiling into the camera. I looked up confused.
“I don’t understand Aunty,” I asked her. I really didn’t. Who were these girls? Why was she showing me these pictures?
She laughed and pointed at the heftier girl in the picture.
“That’s me!” She said, “And that..” she said pointing at the skinnier girl, “is Mili.”
“Who is Mili?” I asked, although I suspected I already knew the answer to that.
“Mili, is the girl who used to stay next door.” She said it simply. I frowned, looking at this picture, I couldn’t tell if we were related. There was no noticeable family resemblance. I tried to conceal my disappointment as I shut the album.
“Wait..” She put her hand in the album, not allowing me to close it. She turned the page over and suddenly, it was my turn to gasp.
The woman in the photo, looked exactly like me. Or more correctly, I looked exactly like her.