The next day
“Anya wasn’t your father angry that day when you stayed back so late at the park?” asked Anjali worried.
Anya shook her head sadly, “He would have been if he had gotten to know. But these days he comes very late and he doesn’t even help me with my homework, instead he is always scolding me for not doing it earlier. I hate doing my homework alone and he never has any time for me these days. Earlier he used to tell stories, play scrabble, watch TV, but now he is always so tired.”
“You know Anjie,” she continued, “Earlier when we came from New York, a few months ago, we lived in a big house and we had a car and a driver and he also used to come home by 6 pm. But then suddenly he left that hospital, because of some ‘unthicl’ practices and now he has taken up another job, but it has very long working hours and we had to shift to a smaller house and we don’t even have a car.”
Anjali’s heart went out to the poor man. Anjali gathered that he would have accepted a lucrative job before coming here but some unethical practices must have forced him to resign and take up any old job till he found something better. Must be so difficult to manage as a single parent she thought.
“Anya dear, you are a big girl, surely you can do your homework all by yourself? your Dad probably comes back tired after a hard day’s work and who likes to study then?!” Anjali pulled a face.
Anya laughed and said “Yes, I suppose so.”
Anjali, “Now suppose, you do your homework on your own and when your dad comes home, then you can just sit and chat with him or watch TV together? Wouldn’t you like that better than fighting over homework, when both of you are both tired and sleepy?”
Anya thoughtfully nodded her head. Anjali decided not to push any further.
That evening Kshitij came back exhausted from another grueling day at the hospital. He was a qualified psychiatrist but was forced to join as a GP in a nearby hospital, where doctors were scarce and patients plenty.
It was ironic that he had come to India tired of his hectic work schedules, especially on weekends, when psychiatrists were in great demand. He had envisioned a laid back easy life in India where he could spend quality time with his daughter, stop to smell the roses, read books, maybe even join music classes. But alas it seemed not meant to be. The job he had fixed up from the States turned out to be a scam, a well oiled system for milking patients out of their hard earned money, part of which was then used to pay for the doctors’ no doubt hefty salary and perks.
Unable to digest the ‘blood’ money, he resigned within a month hoping to find a suitable alternative soon enough. But it had already been two months he thought wearily. He had applied at a couple of hospitals and despite newspaper reports of acute shortage of psychiatrists in India, there were as yet no openings for him.
The major problem with the stop gap job was not the work load but that the salary was also not that great. He had been forced to look for smaller lodgings and get rid of the driver too. Two ‘luxuries’ which he held on to were the locality, he didn’t want to again uproot Anya to another school and lose her Nanny to whom Anya had quite taken to despite the language barrier. Though to be fair, Anya never did have problems adjusting to people and she was always happy. But lately she seemed to be irritable and difficult to handle.
Kshitij understood that Anya was missing him; poor darling, he had come to India for her sake and now she was alone the whole day. Had he made a mistake by taking her away from even her friends? He sighed unhappily. Maybe he should think of going back.
Ah well he would think about that later; there was homework to be tackled first.
Kshitij was pleasantly surprised to find all the homework done, food ready on the table and Anya her sweet vivacious adorable self; not a whiff of the cranky grumpy little girl he had gotten used to seeing over the past month or two.
Anya filled him in with all the details of her happening life and it was all about ‘Anjie this’ ‘Anjie that’. He smiled happily as he listened to her innocent laughter and incessant chatter which had been wiped out by the stress of unfinished homework.
He sent a silent prayer of thanks for Anjie. But in some corner of his heart he was a bit suspicious of this ‘angelic too good to be true’ Anjie. And if he was honest, even the tiniest bit resentful.
Initially he had believed Anjie to be of Anya’s age and had been glad to know that finally she was making friends. But when he got to know that Anjie was a much older woman, he started having doubts. He questioned Anya’s Nanny, but she also gave a favorable report and also the information that she was rich and classy. This got him even more worried. He wondered if he should make discreet enquiries.
What did she want from his little girl and why did she gift those pink clips? He hadn’t liked it one bit and was in fact furious when Anya came back with the clips saying that they had exchanged ‘gifts’, but he had not created a fuss a second time as he didn’t want to upset Anya again. But he was annoyed with that lady for boxing him into a corner.
But he grudgingly accepted that the lady did appear to have a good influence on Anya; he had been telling Anya for so long to do her homework on her own so that they could spend quality time together but to no avail. And now just because her new found ‘friend’ had suggested the same thing, homework was all done. Hence the resentment; he had always come first for Anya, but now all she could think of was Anjie.
Even while watching TV with her Dad, Anya would laugh and say, “I must tell that to Anjie, she will laugh so much” or “I have to pack my bag before I go to sleep otherwise Anjie will scold me” and “even Anjie hates brushing her teeth at night but she will brush if I do too and I don’t want her teeth to fall out so I will!” or out of the blue, “Anjie has such beautiful but sad eyes.”
Kshitij wanted to caution Anya to be careful, he was worried she was becoming too attached to a stranger and he was terrified that she would suddenly lose interest in Anya and then Anya would be heartbroken. Already her mother…no he couldn’t, he wouldn’t let somebody else treat her like a doll, something to play for a while and only to be thrown away once the newness had worn away. He knew Anya was lonely and that is why he was keen to trace his family. He was also banking on his family as a support system for Anya in case something happened to him. But they seemed to have vanished.
I should meet this lady and see for myself what kind of a person she is, he thought wearily just before drifting off to sleep.
Click here for Chapter 16