“You’ll fall Maya. Don’t run so fast…”
Deepa ran behind the toddler, huffing and puffing for breath; unable to catch up with the little thing.
The child in question had turned three and was the naughtiest she had ever been. It was Sunday and the ritual was in place. The duo would go to the park where Maya would spend good half of an hour feeding the pigeons and the rest chasing squirrels till she could walk no more.
Then they would head to the ice cream man where Deepa would have a vanilla cone and Maya- the double chocolate. There were times Deepa asked herself whether it was a child or a giant. How could anything eat as much as her daughter did?
“Buh buh…phy phy,” the child cried out in joy.
An eagle had just risen from among the trees and flown towards the sun.
“It’s beautiful. Isn’t it?” Deepa had finally caught up with her daughter. She bent down and scooped the little thing in her hands.
It was time for the ice cream man.
All of their Sundays had been like this. First few Sundays the child had been in a crib, followed by her arms and now she had taken to running.
The phone buzzed. It was David on the other end.
“What’s up D?”
“Hey a little busy. Call you later?”
“Where are you?”
“Deepa tell me. Now.”
“…”(silence on the other end)
“Are you in the park?”
“How does it matter to you?”
“Stay there. Please. For me.”
“Maya needs ice cream. I am going. Bye”
Not again, she thought to herself, another dream shattered…another day wasted.
Maya was playing with her hair, tugging at her small little pony tail, trying to free her curls. She hated anything on her hair.
Deepa was reminded of her own childhood when she saw Maya. Like the latter, she too hated her hair tied up. But the child was a little different. She was lean, unlike her mother and had pitch black eyes and a sharp nose.
“Come kid. Ice cream time.”
Kiran was having a good day till Deepa showed up at his stall. The sight of the lady with her hair half tied and tired eyes made him sad. She was his Sunday ritual. He picked up his phone and dialed the number.
“I know. Keep her busy. I am coming,” said David.
Kiran put on his best face and greeted her. The conversation was the same as was the order. The clothes were same too.
David came running at Deepa wearing his bathroom slippers and shorts.
“D let’s go home,” David tugged on Deepa’s arms.
The spectators saw a couple arguing. The man had caught hold of the woman and she was struggling to escape. The man looked tired and the lady- defiant.
Lone words like remember, no, illusion, home and dream caught the ears of the passerbys.
After a few heartbeats, the lady gave in and seemed to collapse onto the man. Tears were streaming down her face. The man put his arms around the woman and escorted her out of the park.
Only two souls left the park- David and Deepa. The rest is up to your imagination.