Dr. Raksha Bhat, Aditi Pathak, Sajal Kumar Aggarwal, Nandini Garg, Sammya Brata, Rathina Sankari, Swathi Shenoy, Swati Mittal, Sathya Narayanan, and Oeendree Mukherjee
A Road Less Travelled
At Tara’s office, Roohi sat in a corner playing with her doll. Shekhar had remembered to take it along as he had stormed out of the house to reunite with his daughter who had been missing for a few hours. Cyrus had been kind enough to call him about his daughter’s whereabouts and also kept her company till Shekhar reached to pick Roohi.
Shekhar’s joy was quite palpable the moment he had set his eyes on Roohi and the only person he could think of sharing it with was Tara.
However, Tara wasn’t the one to ‘waste’ her emotions on her family because she had another child to love and that was her work. After giving Roohi an obligatory hug and a pat on the head, Tara was again consumed by her work. She did not show much affection or relief, which any mother would whose child has been missing for hours.
Shekhar, a mute and defeated witness to the entire spectacle felt no urge to indulge into another pointless tirade with Tara, which would be nothing but mentally and emotionally draining for him.
He was more worried about Roohi as he shivered to think about what all could have gone wrong in those few hours. Shekhar wanted to do everything in his power to erase this fear of separation from his daughter’s mind.
He crouched in front of Roohi, lovingly ran his hand on her head, and asked “Sweetheart, how about we get out of here and bring home a puppy for us?”
It turned out to be a good distraction as Roohi had been missing her mother’s affection especially after the incident. Besides this for quite some time she had been asking Shekhar to allow her to get a pet for herself.
She readily agreed but wanted to know if Tara will also accompany them. However, for Shekhar it was a foregone conclusion because he knew that under no circumstances will Tara ever compromise with her work.
“Roohi, mom has a very important meeting to attend, but what if I say that we will eat your favourite pizza and ice-cream too? “ asked Shekhar hoping that his plan will bring back a smile on Roohi’s face.
His prayers had been answered for Roohi’s eyes twinkled like the two brightest starts in a starlit sky. Love for animals was another thing that the father-daughter shared with each other and it also helped strengthen their bond.
Hand in hand with Roohi, Shekhar left Tara’s office without feeling the need to inform her about their plans.
In midst of an animated conversation with his daughter, Shekhar’s eyes once again chanced upon Jennifer who was haggling with an auto driver. It wasn’t the first time that he was meeting her; a while ago he had bumped into Jennifer in his wife’s office, where she had been hired as a photographer.
After settling Roohi in the car, he walked up to Jennifer and asked, “Hey! Can I drop you somewhere?”
“No, thank you. I will manage. It’s just that I am still finding my way around the city and learning how to bargain with the autowallahs.” she said cheekily.
On an impulse Shekhar asked, “Would you like to eat an ice-cream with us?”
“Us?” Jennifer asked.
“My daughter and I plan to get a puppy, dig into a pizza, and finish the day with an ice-cream” he said pointing towards Roohi.
“I am not so sure…” Jennifer hesitantly replied.
“The treat is on me and I will even teach you the tact of surviving in this city. Both of us have our reasons to celebrate this day, so why not do so together. I am assuming you don’t know anyone here, so we can be your new friends. What say?” asked Shekhar.
“I have a new job to celebrate but what about you?” Jennifer asked.
Shekhar gave a wistful smile and said, “Let’s exchange stories over pizza and ice-cream. We should get going now because Roohi is getting impatient.”
Always the one for new experiences and befriending people, Jennifer hopped into the car without reluctance.
They drove down a road less travelled and embarked on a journey that was about to give their lives a bizarre turn; a turn neither of them could have imagined.here.