5th October 2000
What a day! The whole class was rushing to the library, for the very first time, to get science books. We all wanted to do a great project. My partner was nowhere to be found. I spend half the day trying to find a good project topic and when I did finalize on something, Priyank made his grand entry and poo-paahed all my ideas! Urrrrghhh!! Hate that guy! Then he disappeared for a whole hour and came back with a project topic that he had already finalized with the teacher! Who does he think he is?” I hope you don’t mind,” he said, as he triumphantly presented the topic he had selected after conferring with the teacher. Hellooooo? I AM YOUR PARTNER!! Of course, I didn’t say anything. I just picked up my bags and left. I was so angry, I didn’t trust myself. I could’ve hit him! And guess what, he followed me, apologizing profusely. That took me by surprise. I mean, I didn’t expect him to apologize at all, leave alone apologizing profusely.
Anyway, I just kind of shrugged and walked off. And get this! He got my phone number from somewhere and called to apologize too! Of course, I forgave him after that. Besides, his topic, as much as I hate to admit it, was better than the ones that I had shortlisted.
Oops, its almost bedtime, and I forgot to give puppy his dinner! I’ll be right back..
6th October 2000
Okay, a LOT happened last night. I don’t know where to begin! Okay, let me start where I had left off. So, after mum and dad slept off, I sneaked out of the house with a bowl full of milk and dog food that I had hidden in my closet. I opened the garage, only to see that puppy was missing. I panicked. I called out softly, but there was no answer. I sneaked back inside and picked up a torch. I had to find him. A little puppy, lost in the middle of the night, anything could have happened. I was about to venture out of the colony alone, when I felt a little scared. I mean, it was pitch dark after all. I turned to look at my house, hoping my parents hadn’t gotten up when I saw the light on in Aakruti’s room. I didn’t think. I just thought, I would feel better if she came along. After all, I hadn’t told anyone in school about her brother or her constant crying. The way I looked at it, she owed me one. I picked up little stones and tossed them at her window. She seemed shocked to see me there. “No, you must not be seen here at this time. Go away!” She had tried to send me away but by that time I was so sick with worry about puppy I didn’t listen. “Please Aakruti, I need your help. My puppy is missing, I need to look for him. Will you help me?” I had asked. She had sighed, pulled on one jacket and slipped out of the back door to join me. Together we searched and searched and searched, all in vain. Finally, we decided to head back. I was almost on the verge of tears when we found him. There he was, walking around, without a care in the world. And as we bent down to pick him up, believe it or not, cops caught us!!!
Apparently, some neighbor had seen us prowling, seen our flashlights and assumed we were some kind of thieves and called the cops. The cops didn’t believe our story about puppy. They thought we were running away from home! And they took us to the police station and made us call our parents. I was nervous about dad’s reaction, but nothing compared to Aakruti. She was positively petrified. She refused to call her parents. In fact, she refused to say anything. Finally, I asked dad to get her father and come too.
Boy, did I get a mouthful that night and I have been grounded forever. But that’s not the point. My dad was angry, but he was more relieved that I was safe. Not Aakruti’s dada. He was livid! Aakruti cowered in one corner as she saw her father enter. And then, as my dad put out his arms to hug me, I saw Aakruti’s dad clutch her arm roughly. When he left her, she rubbed the skin on her hand, silent tears rolling down her eyes. She tugged at her jacket sleeves, rolling them down, so that they would cover the bruise her father had made on her skin. I could hardly breathe. Suddenly it was clear to me, why Aakruti was so reserved when no one was watching her, why she came over to my house, locked herself in my room and cried, why she wore a pullover on an incredibly hot day. She caught my eye and realized I had guessed the truth. She shook her head softly, begging me silently, not to say anything. It was a tough decision. But who was I to say anything. So I did just that. I kept my mouth shut.
And then, as we were coming back, her father kept glaring at me, as though I was the one responsible. I mean, I was, but I didn’t intend to cause any trouble. Aakruti sat there quietly, next to me, biting her lip. I wanted to scream out to my dad to help her, but I didn’t say anything.
But then a funny thing happened as we got off the car. As Aakruti started to make her way to her home, my dad stopped her. “Why don’t you stay with us tonight Aakurti.” He said. Then his eyes narrowed and he got this look on his face that I hope I never had to be at the receiving end of. He turned towards her dad and started talking softly, but sternly.
Now at this point, I should tell you, my father is not a very physically intimidating man and Aakruti’s dad, had things gotten out of hand, would have clearly knocked the daylights out of dad but just the sight of dad talking down to him made me swell with pride. A few heated words were exchanged, but dad won the battle. He ushered us inside the house and carefully rolled up Aarkuti’s jacket sleeve.
He had noticed the little drama at the police station. His face darkened and he peered at Aakruti’s face. “Does this happen often Aakruti?” He asked looking at the angry bruise on her arm.
“No” Aakruti had replied, her voice barely a whisper. I knew she was lying, but still, I didn’t say anything. I don’t know why I didn’t say anything. I just didn’t.
My dad didn’t press her, he nodded and left us in alone again in my room. And then once we had locked the doors, Aakruti slowly slipped off her jacket and rolled up her pants and showed me the wounds she had been trying so hard to hide from everyone.
She made me promise I wouldn’t tell anyone.
Her father has been hitting her.