Saina was an only child. Born into the family after years of treatments and prayers, she was her father’s little princess and the apple of her mother’s eye. Despite having had all the opportunities to turn into a spoilt brat, Saina was anything but spoiled. In fact, unlike most parents of teenagers, Mira and Keshav rarely got a chance to admonish their daughter. However, this wasn’t so, because they were soft on her. Rather, Saina rarely got herself into situations which would cause her parents to scold her.
Saina’s eighteen birthday was just around the corner. Mira and Keshav still found it hard to believe that their “little bundle of joy” would soon be taking her first steps into adulthood. It had taken them quite a while, to come to terms with the fact that their baby girl had started college! College girl, or not, she was still their baby. With her skinny frame and the loose curls that barely managed to reach her shoulder, Saina still looked very much like a schoolgirl.
The trio had a routine that was developed over the years, and adjusted as the years progressed to suit everyone’s convenience. After they had their breakfast together, they would set off in different directions to work and college. The evenings were spent exchanging interesting tidbits about their day. Preparing dinner was a joint affair, with the workload equally distributed among the three. The routine was never broken, until that fateful day…
Saina was always the first among the three to get back home. On her eighteen birthday, Mira and Keshav decided to surprise her. They managed to reach home before Saina, set up the birthday cake, and waited for Saina. They waited, and waited. As the minutes passed, they started looking at each other, and their watches with increasing anxiety. As the wait stretched into hours, they began desperately calling Saina’s mobile, but to no avail. When the call yielded a message that Saina was “out of coverage area”, they began to wrack their brains over her probable whereabouts. As the message turned to “this number is currently switched off”, their blood pressure went through the roof. Multiple calls to Saina’s best friends helped confirm the fact that she had left college on time, and that no other birthday parties were planned. It was most unlike Saina to go anywhere without informing Mira or Keshav.
It didn’t help matters, that outside, a severe thunderstorm raged on, almost as if it were mirroring the owners’ state of mind…
Just as Keshav was gearing up to call the cops, there was a knock on the door. The distraught parents hurried to open the door, in the hopes that it might be their child at the door… They weren’t disappointed. The door opened, to reveal Saina, drenched from head to toe, trembling uncontrollably! Relieved that she was safe, they temporarily forgot about their anger as they hugged their daughter.
After a hot steaming mug of tea and a bath, the trembling stopped, and Saina managed to steal a glance at her parents’ angry faces. She didn’t dare meet their penetrating stares. Mira and Keshav were relieved that Saina had got home safely, but they couldn’t stop themselves from unleashing a barrage of questions.
Mira: “What happened to you?”
Keshav: “Where in the world were you?”
Keshav: “Do you have any idea how worried we were?”
Mira: “Why didn’t you call us and inform that you would be late?”
Keshav: “Do you think that now that you are an adult, you can make your own decisions, huh?”
Keshav: “Why are you crying? What happened to you, Saina? Where were you?”
“Don’t just sit there in silence! For the love of God, say something, Saina!”, an exasperated Mira said. Wiping off the tears from her face, Saina drew in a deep breath. “I’m so sorry, Amma and Acha. I didn’t think that I would be so late… but… when I tell the truth, please don’t scold me.”, she managed to say, in between sobs.
Keshav: “What’s wrong, Saina? Just tell us, where were you?”
Mira: “Yes, and then your father and I will decide whether to scold you or not.”
“I had wanted to do something special for my birthday. I had been planning it for weeks now. After college, I headed to the medical college, to sign up to be an organ donor. But then, it started to rain, and despite waiting at the bus stop for over an hour, I wasn’t able to catch one. I boarded the first bus that came my way, and after multiple stops and bus rides, I managed to get home. I’m so sorry. I didn’t think I would be so late. By the time I checked my phone, the battery had died, and I was unable to call you. So, I hurried home, as fast as I could, because I knew you would be worried.”
“Oh, sweetheart! Why didn’t you tell us before? That’s so noble of you”, said Mira, eyes welling up with tears.
“I’m proud of you, Saina. But you could have called and checked in with us. We were so worried.”, Keshav chipped in.
Despite Saina’s good intentions, Mira and Keshav did end up scolding her, albeit mildly, for the hours that they spent worrying and agonizing about her safety. But nevertheless, they were overjoyed that their child had made such a noble decision. That, it was her first decision as an adult was the icing on the cake for Mira and Keshav.
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© 2018 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.