“Gini, close the TV and get to bed now,” she heard her mom shout from the kitchen.
Gini ignored her voice, her eyes focused on Shin Chan’s adventure. She knew her mom would shout two-three times more from the kitchen before finally coming over to shut the TV. Shin Chan’s show would be over by then.
This was a pattern they followed every school day. When she returned from school, Asha the maid would come to pick her and Rooi from the school bus. After changing out of her uniform, she would have lunch and a short nap. At 4 PM, Rooi would come to her house to call her. Rooi was her best friend and lived in the same floor, in the opposite house. Rooi’s mom made sure they finished their homework before going to play.
Around 7 PM, Gini’s mom would return from work, dump her bag and head to the park where the kids were playing. Gini was usually thrilled when she saw her mom there. She looked really nice in her office clothes. The only time when she wished her mom would go away was when she to join her and her friends in their game. That was super-embarrassing.
Later, after dinner, Gini got to watch Cartoon Network before sleeping.
Gini didn’t realize when she had finally slept off. But, she awoke when mom picked her up and carried her to the bed. She didn’t want to get up to brush her teeth, so she pretended to be fast asleep when her mom tried to wake her up. She knew her mom wouldn’t force her awake. She felt her mom gently kiss her cheeks, before leaving the room.
A part of her was happy that she managed to fool her mom; the other part was too tired to gloat.
The next she remembered she was in the park. But there was something different about the park. The buildings surrounding their park were not there. The park itself seemed huge, without an end. There was no one around. She felt a little scared. But, then she saw her mom and Rooi far away. They seemed to be playing hopscotch, laughing and having fun. Okay, that was just not done. Gini hated being left out.
She started running towards them, but with each step she took the garden seemed to expand and they seemed to move farther away.
“Ma…Rooi” she shouted.
But they ignored her. She started to run faster; and the garden expanded more.
“Rooi, I am here. Look this side… Rooiiii…” she waved her arms, jumping up and down.
But no matter how much she ran or shouted she could not reach them.
“Ma..Ma..” she was crying openly now.
What was this place? Why couldn’t they hear her? They didn’t even look at her direction.
Oh, only if they glanced her way once…
She looked around to see if there was any other way she could reach them. But all she could see was a sea of bright green grass. She hated it.
She turned around. Ma and Rooi were nowhere to be seen.
Where did they go now?
Her mom couldn’t have left her behind. Her mom was always there when she wanted her….where was she now?
She was crying so hard now, it was getting difficult for her to breathe.
“Ma…” she sobbed with every breath.
“Wake up, sweetie.”
That was her mom’s voice. Maybe all she had to do was open her eyes and find her mom.
Gini slowly peeled her eyes open.
“Ma, you are here” she screeched, throwing herself at her mom. Her voice still felt hoarse and her eyes wet.
“Where else would I be?” her mom answered patting her back comfortingly. “What happened? I thought I heard you calling for me.”
Refusing to let go of her stranglehold, Gini mumbled “Nothing. Just promise, you will never leave me.”
“I promise,” reassured her mom, hugging her tight.
– Rajani Mohanan
Read more of her works in our book – ‘Of Blood and Ink’