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As I parked my car, I saw the boys stepping forward towards my car laughing and hooting. I picked up Deepa and began to walk towards the lift without daring to look at them. “Yo… look at him”, one of the boys began to shout. “Bro…It’s not him … it’s her”, another boy sarcastically replied.
As I pressed the button and waited for the lift, I could feel them closer to me than ever. Their sarcastic tone turned into serious harassment and began to call me names followed by insults and threats. As soon as the lift arrived, I pressed my floor and quickly covered my face as one of them unlocked his mobile to take a picture of me.
While walking towards my door controlling my tears, I saw Aarthi standing in front giving me a stare. I opened the door brushing her aside and let myself in. “You have made a big mistake”, she pointed me on the fact that I should have never ventured alone outside. “If it makes my daughter happy, I am even ready to do a bigger one”, I thanked for her concern and shut the door.
After Deepa slept, I removed my polish using the remover. Lying in my bed, I recollected the events which spiked my adrenaline uncontrollably. Though the events in the car park churned my stomach a bit, I felt something different when I thought about the school function. The student’s dance, Deepa’s smile, crowd’s cheer and funny cough syrup incident made me strangely happy. Viewing the world from mother’s eyes felt like liberation from prison in which I confined myself by distancing myself from Deepa when I was her father. At that moment, I felt like I can never give her the happiness I saw on her face as her father.
Since it was Saturday the next morning, I woke up late and it was surprising to see Deepa preparing coffee for me. “Ta da”, she gave me a cup and sat near me for my comments. “Hmm…”, she raised her eyebrows and bit her lips as I took a sip. “Perfect!”, she jumped in joy as I kissed on her forehead. “Go watch TV. Mommy will come”, I spontaneously said even though she never asked.
I quickly refreshed and took one old saree from my wife’s wardrobe. The next 30 minutes was spent in makeup and draping. “What shall we do today?”, I stepped into kitchen asking for her opinion. “We shall go by rest”, just as she was about to complete.
“What?”, I gave a smirk. “I said gobi recipe”, she fine tuned herself into Einstein and changed her answer. “Seriously?”, I gave another smirk leaning on the kitchen wall. “Yeah…yeah”, she replied without looking at me.
“Are you sure? I think I heard GO BY RESTAURANT”, I latched on to her answer. “No…no”, she now turned from Einstein to innocent baby.
“Okay. Gobi it is”, I laughed silently and began to prepare lunch. “Why don’t we go by restau…”, I rekindled our conversation while eating lunch. “Yes … yes … Gobi recipe for night”, she tried her level best to steer clear while gulping her food.
“No dummy, I said we shall go by restaurant”, she looked stunned with her mouth full of rice. “Seriously?”, she quickly gulped her food and looked at me in shock. “Yup … I am serio …”, she quickly jumped out and hugged me tight.
“So where shall we go?” I asked for opinion while hugging her. Thus I began my (ad)venture with daughter into outside world.
“How about this place? … no … How about this one?… no”, after a few minutes of critical discussion we decided to go for a movie and dine in food court of that mall. The reason behind such selection was that “more the crowd, less the attention I get”. Soon I booked two corner tickets for evening show and prepared myself for the rollercoaster ride. For a change, I opted for modern black top and blue jeans to blend in mall freely. Deepa as usual got ready early and waited for me to complete my makeup and hair.
“How do I look?” I hesitantly came out asking as I was not convinced 100 percent about my looks. Deepa glanced from top to bottom and went inside bedroom which made me scratch my head. After pondering around, she came out with my wife’s purse and a black cooling glass. She fitted the glass and handed the purse over to me.
“Perfect!”, she gave her approval and lead me to the door. Once again as precaution, I covered my head with a scarf and reached out for the lift. “Shh…”, I requested to remain silent as I quickly glanced around to see if anyone was present nearby. “Area clear”, we both rushed towards our car and left to the mall.
“Welcome to Moviezone madam”, I gave a quick smile as the authority checked my ticket. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie without any second thoughts.
“Two popcorn and coke, please”, the person at counter gave a puzzled look as I ordered. “Mmm… Throat infection…”, I pretended to clear my throat and gave a wry smile. “Oh…”, his expression changed back to normal and came back with my
order. This entire episode repeated itself when I ordered my menu at food court.
We roamed around the mall and even gathered courage to step into shopping center to look for new dress. I never looked out of place as we enjoying to the core till 10pm.
During our return, I decided to tread carefully and looked around the basement for those boys. “Phew…”, I was relieved to see basement empty. We reached our
apartment and changed back to normal dress.
“Deepa”, I picked up a conversation while putting my daughter to sleep. “Yeah”, she looked at me hugging her teddy. “Tomorrow… Hmmm … Do you want to Gobi (or) Go by”, I teased her with my sentence. “Definitely GO BY”, we both laughed hysterically looking at each other and began our critical discussion on where to dine tomorrow.
The next day, we decided to level up our game and went to a five star hotel. As usual I played my cough syrup game and generously tipped the waiter while leaving. With three trails proving success, we decided to up the ante in coming weeks.
Soon the boring weekends turned into thrillers as we partied in several social places. My fear turned into excitement, normal dresses to stellar sarees, and rugged beards to soft clean shaves and so on. To my annoyance, the insults from those boys continued as well.
Being her mother in public uplifted my mood during the weekdays. My feminine energy totally complimented my work and everyone in my workplace was surprised to see me happy like never before.
Over the weekends, me a day job employee transformed into a diva and electrified the entire world. As the days turned into months, my persona as her mother took over our life and I prayed every day that it stayed that way.
On such weekend, “How do I look?” I stood in front as usual for her approval. “Huh, deep cut blouse …”, she opened her mouth in awe as she saw me wearing a deep back blouse for the first time. “Surprise!” I turned around making my free flowing pallu dance in the air. “Just Wow”, she approved me of my new try.
As usual, we went for a movie and dined in a five star restaurant. This time I needed no cough syrup as I had total grip on my feminine tone. It was 10pm when we reached the basement and Deepa had already begun to chat about tomorrow’s plan.
“Sanctuary?… Theme park? … How about Aquarium?”, she stacked her opinion as I stood carrying her waiting in front of lift.
“Anything you … ”, before I could complete my sentence. “MOMMY!”, Deepa screamed at the top of her lungs. “THUD” Someone struck me with an object from behind, as I slowly fell to the floor. I groaned in pain only to realize it was those boys who hit me. With bare conscious I saw lift door opening, “Run”, I pointed Deepa to get onto the lift.
As the lift door closed, one of the boys stood in front of me pointing his baseball bat near my head and began to throw insults. Tear began to flow and I begged him to stop.
“Just DIE……THUD”, the last sound I heard was his bat striking my head as I was knocked unconscious.
To be continued …
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