She suddenly got up, packed all her bags and left.
* * *
“But where are we going?” Ayesha’s voice was unusually calm for a three year old. The fact that Ramya was almost dragging her out of the house should have surprised her, at least motivated her to scream and shout.
But totally contrary to all Ramya’s expectations she casually walked outside.
“Ayesha do you know who was your mother?” Ramya suddenly stopped in the middle of the street to pose this question.
Ayesha stared at her with deep intense eyes. And then she slowly broke free from the tight hand grip of Ramya’s.
She dug deep into her bag and extracted the same story book.
“Mallika is my mother. She gave me this book. She died last week,” she replied, this time not with the same sense of control on her speech.
Ramya felt a jolt hearing this. She didn’t know what to ask her next.
“I found out. No one told me. I often saw her watching me from across the street and then one day this man came home and said, ‘she looks just like her,'” Ayesha continued.
Ramya waited with bated breath for her to speak more.
“Daddy dismissed the conversation but the man’s words hung in my ears. And then I began to notice how much she looked like me,” she finished talking and began to walk ahead.
Ramya slowly followed her, knowing fully well Ayesha would not run away from her anymore.
After a good fifteen minutes she turned around to face Ramya.
She had tears in her eyes. They had almost reached the station by now. She was also shivering a little. Ramya took out the coat from her bag and draped around Ayesha.
“Are you going to save me?” she asked, her voice wavering with the shivers now.
Ramya looked on. She silently nodded her head.
“Will they never touch me again now?” Ayesha continued and this time tears finally breaking free.
Ramya noticed that she did not even have to speak a word to make her presence felt around Ayesha. The soft fall of her footsteps was enough to trigger registration.
And it suddenly dawned on her. Something even Mallika had not realised. Suyash had always looked at Ayesha too as a prospect. He had used Mallika and then further decided to use the child. His own daughter.
Ramya felt a sudden surge in emotions. She lifted the child in her arms and hugged her tight.
“They will never touch you ever again. I promise,” Ramya replied, feeling the tears run down her own cheeks.
They were just in time for the train back home.
And suddenly her phone rang. She saw that it was Suyash calling, his timing of communication felt odd to Ramya. She knew this was not good news.
And in a few moments she saw him on the platform. He was running through the length and breadth of that place wading into the sea of people. He looked like a man on mission. Ramya could feel her heartbeats rise but more importantly she could see Ayesha’s face losing colour.
She took her shawl and wrapped it around Ayesha hiding her face completely. For herself she bent down to avoid recognition. It was a total of five minutes before the train began to move
It was the longest five minutes of Ramya’s life. And in next moment she saw a brown envelope lying on the platform. It was the stack of letters from Mallika. It had apparently slipped off her bag. Before Ramya could so something about it, she saw a young girl pick it up.
Ramya watched on, she realised that Mallika had other plans. Her story could not be held, not contained for one person alone.
It had to travel further to save lives.
The young girl eyes the package for a while and then in another instant took it with her and walked away.
By the time train had pulled out of the station a strange calm had descended all around. Ayesha had gone off to a sleep and Ramya had just woken up to a dreamless life.
* * *
Connecting it with Ultimate Blogging Challenge.