This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
Lakshmi was waiting for her daughter Kavya to return home. Recently Kavya started playing with some unknown kid at the river side. That river is just few yards from their home. She told to her mother as that stranger is her new mysterious friend. Their home is located in the suburb at the edge of a small forest. Kavya’s father Hari is very fond of that home as he had spent most of his childhood days in it. Though it is far from the town, he decided to live in it. There is a two meter wall around the property and one can see a beautiful juicy green grass surrounding to that home.
When they moved into that home, Kavya was a year old kid. After Kavya, doctors told, it is difficult for Lakshmi to have another child. So they started taking care of her with utmost care. When Kayva turned five, she had realized that she wanted more friends to play, but beside of her home, there were no other homes so no kids to play with her. She felt very bored. Once in a while they used to go to their friend’s home in town to spend some time with their kids. But for Kavya that was not enough.
Many times Lakshmi asked Hari to move to some other home near to town just for Kavya, so she could find many friends in town, but Hari keeps postponing it. Meanwhile, Kavya got used to play alone and spend a lot of time at the river side.
When the days were going like this, one day Kavya had come home happily and told that she got a friend at the river side. Lakshmi was surprised as per as she knows, there were no one living near to their home, so there is no chance for anyone to come there to play. But when Kavya described her like how she talks, how she looks, then she started believing that that girl could be coming from a nearby village. As per her description, she was same age of Kavya and every day she comes by just wearing a kid’s panty. But Lakshmi was curious to know how come such a small girl comes alone from a village.
She asked Kavya to bring her to home. But she refused to bring her as her friend doesn’t like to come to their home. And her friend told to Kavya that no one should see her; otherwise she wouldn’t meet her again. After hearing that, Lakshmi started suspecting her friend. She told to Hari about Kavya’s mysterious friend. But he didn’t care much about it.
That day Lakshmi decided at any cost she should find who was she? So she prepared Kavya’s favorite sweet to sooth her and find more details about her friend. She was waiting for her to come back to home. After some time, she came.
“Hi Sweety, you know what I prepared for you. Can you guess?”, she said by carrying her.
“Hey… mummy… I know you prepared Gulab Jamun … I like it”, She was very happy. Lakshmi nodded and took her to the kitchen and gave a Gulab Jamun. While she was eating, she asked, “Sweety, does your friend also like Gulab Jamun ?”
“Yes, mummy”, she said gulping the Jamun.
Why don’t you take this to your friend? She might feel very happy, Ok”, she said by giving a box to her.
“Ya, you are right mummy. She feels very happy… you are very nice”, she said by taking that box.
“Will you go now? Are your friend still be at the river side “, she asked by looking at her carefully.
“Ya mummy she stays always there. Even she doesn’t have any friends…, so I go and give it right now”, she said and ready to leave home.
“Ok, come quickly … and be careful alright”
“Yes… mummy and my friend feels very happy after seeing this sweet… bye”, she said and went outside.
After few seconds, Lakshmi followed her, and she was extremely careful so that Kavya wouldn’t notice her. When she reached the bay, she was stunned after seeing what Kavya was doing at that place. Actually there was no one other than Kavya at that place. She was talking alone and feeding Gulab Jamun in air. She was talking such a way that someone was sitting beside of her. Lakshmi went quickly and stood in front of Kavya and shouted, “Sweety… What are doing alone here?”,
Kavya looked startled after seeing her.
“Mummy… Why you came? I told you shouldn’t come here… see…my friend left”, she muffled.
“Shut-up… you don’t have any friends here… you were talking alone here… “, she said in hysteric manner.
Kavya has never seen her mother before like that. She started crying, “I was talking with my friend only… I was not taking alone… she has left because you came…”
“Enough… come home”, she grabbed her hand and took her to home.
When they reached home, Kavya was still crying and went inside of her bedroom and closed the door. Lakshmi was terribly upset to see her kid talking alone. She waited for Hari to come home, so that she could share what happened today to him.
“Oh… that is very common baby… kids sometimes behaves like that… they make friendship with imaginary people… and they talk with them… so don’t make it as a big issue… take it easy”, Hari said to her when she told about what happened that day.
She didn’t expect that answer from him as she thought he would take Kavya to some doctor for check-up.
“But… honey… it is not good behavior for anyone to talk on their own… so can we have to take her to the hospital?“, She is worried.
“I told you … take it easy… it’s not that big problem… alright … I’ve to take a bath”, he said and went to the bathroom.
But Lakshmi was not convinced at all; however she wanted to keep a close eye on her daughter actions. Her worry was doubled when Kavya one day told her that her friend came to her bedroom to talk to her as since after that incident Lakshmi was not allowing Kavya to go to the river side.
“What did she tell to you?” she was curious to know.
“She is very angry on you mummy as you are not allowing me to talk to her. She told that she would kill you… but I pleaded her not to do that… she is not like before… she is changed so much… I’m afraid mummy”, she is frightened.
Lakshmi face turned pale and terrified to hear “Killing” word from five years old kid mouth. She hugged her immediately, “nothing is going to happen Sweety… don’t worry … ok”, she tried to sooth her. Inside she thought, why the hell she was talking like that; she strongly determined to take her to the doctor before situation goes out of her hands.
“I don’t understand what’s the matter with you… you are not listening my words… we must take her to the doctor… she is behaving like a crazy girl… today she said her imaginary friend is going to kill me… do you wait until she turns to a MAD girl”, Lakshmi was shouting on Hari.
“Calm down Lakshmi… nothing is going to happen … just wait for few days everything is going to be alright”, Hari was trying to calm down her.
“When… when it will happen… you don’t like to change the house…You don’t like to take her to doctor… you don’t like anything to happen… why? I have to know today … that’s it”, she was shouting in a hysteric manner.
“No … we can’t take her to any doctor… because… “, Hari stopped and he didn’t know what else to tell.
“Because… why??? Why we can’t take her to any doctor??? Now I’m realizing why… because you don’t like her… you don’t have any affection on her… “,
Hari got angry and crunched his fist, “Shut-up… I didn’t want to take her… because there is NO “HER”… our Sweety is DIED … yes… OUR KID IS DEAD … when we moved here… you took her in a boat on the river… but… that time the boat crashed into tree and flipped. And you both had fallen in the river… you were able to survive, but our Sweety had drowned to death… “, he burst into tears.
She was shocked and looking at him unbelievably.
He continued, “after that incident… you didn’t believe that our kid is no more… you started behaving as if she is still alive and playing with us… you constructed a dream world, where our Sweety lived with us and has grown up… it was you… you didn’t like to change home, because if we move to a different home.. you might recall that Sweety is no more…, but you didn’t want that… you wanted to live in your dream world … and feel our Sweety presence… but you don’t understand… how much torture I had gone through by seeing you like that … “, he stopped.
“No… you are telling lies… our Sweety is alive… I can show you… she is sleeping… she is alive“, Lakshmi muttered and fell on floor unconsciously.