"Mamma!! Can you call Granny with your cellphone," Prerna spoke up for the first time since her mother picked her up from dance class
"Not now beta, there's our bus," Mrs. Joshi tells her daughter, a bit surprised at her daughter - surprised to find her so silent, so totally unlike her bubbly self. "Must have gotten scolded by her dance teacher for blabbering away with friends," Mrs. Joshi thinks and decides to let Prerna mull over it until she is ready to speak about it.
Both of them board bus no. 42. "Mamma!! Window seat!!" Prerna rushes to a vacant window seat while Mrs. Joshi sits a couple of rows in front.
Mrs. Joshi's mind wanders away, thinking of her to-dos and not-to-dos when all of sudden she remembers that their stop is approaching. She turns around but Prerna isn't in her seat.
She looks around to the bus to see if Prerna was "Filling in the Blanks" like she herself called it. But no sign of Prerna.
"Have you seen my daughter, she.. she's 9 years old," a panicked Mrs. Joshi asks around only to be met with shaking heads of fellow passengers.
She gets off at the Mazgaon bus stop and starts walking backward to see if Prerna had gotten off the bus by mistake. But even after walking back a couple of kilometers right up to Sandhurst road Station, she could not find her daughter.
Now almost hysterical, Mrs.Joshi returns home, hoping somehow Prerna had found her way back home. But the locked door shattered her hopes. None of her neighbours were at home so there wasn't any hope of finding her playing with the other kids as well.
"Hello," a serious baritone replies. "Suresh, Its Prerna... somehow.. she.. she disappeared while on the way back on the bus" "What?? how.. where were you at that time?? ok ok.. stop weeping now dear.. I'm coming back home"
"Suresh, any luck?" "No Sheela, my friends and I have been searching up and down the bus route for the past 3 hours but no luck. I even lodged a complaint with the police. Even they are looking." Sheela, could not hold herself and falls back onto the couch sobbing hard.
Another hour later, completely exhausted, Mr. Joshi returns home with a couple of friends. Mrs. Joshi looks at him expectantly, half hoping to find Prerna hiding behind him. But his dejected face answered her queries. STILL NO LUCK. "Sheela, I think we have to tell Mother." Mrs. Joshi only nodded.
"Hello Mother... WHAT?? WHEN?? Ok.. No I didn't.. May I speak to her.. We have been worried sick here.. why on earth did she have to do something like that"
"Beta, she says she badly wanted to meet me so she got off at Sandhurst Road station, got on the train and travelled all the way to Chembur and then walked to my house. When I asked her how she got there, she said that you dropped her downstairs and had to rush off somewhere. She's crying right now. Here speak to her"
"Prerna, WHY did you have to run off all by yourself dear. We have been so worried about you. Your mother has been crying all the time since she got home. "
"Daddy, I wanted to meet Granny. I dont like to stay at home. WHY DO YOU AND MAMMA ALWAYS HAVE TO FIGHT? I hate it when you fight.. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO FIGHT??"
An Article by Shrikant who blogs at Hedonist to the Core