Kim took a two-day leave from her office as she had some work in the local municipal office and many other errands to run as they moved into the locality quite recently and there are many things yet to settle. Being a single mother, she was running from pole to post to make things work and give her daughter a comfortable life.
After dropping Nora at her school she headed towards the municipal office with the requisite documents to register herself and her daughter in the local population. But work at government offices isn’t all hunky dory at all. The officer asked her to come back later as they marked little discrepancies in the documents. Kim requested to see if something can be done on the spot but the officer didn’t budge. With a smile he said “I would have if I could have. Unfortunately I have to follow the norms. You can come next week” and flashed the lunch-break board on the counter.
Unhappy at the turn of events, Kim dragged herself back to the house. With a lot of work pending at the house as well, her displeasure didn’t linger on for long. She got busy cutting the fluff, and arranging and decorating the house to her and especially to Nora’s liking. In the process, she unpacked a box of memories. A bunch of photographs, an old hand-knitted scarf, a few postcards, books, and a locket. Time seemed to have frozen for her. The contents of the box pushed her back in time. Lanes of the place where she grew up, her parents, her friends, her first and only love Joel, holding Nora for the first time in her arms, her pet, laughter, fights, hugs, tears, fears, adventures, mistakes, forgiveness, and more. She could see everything happening as if she was in some time loop. She took the scarf and inhaled deeply as she held it close to her heart. Her grandmother knit that scarf for her on her 15th birthday. The warmth and fragrance are still intact and a lump formed in her throat. Emotions choked her. Finally, she caught hold of the locket lying beneath the postcards. An oval-shaped turquoise crystal locket that was cracked. She gently brushed the surface of the locket with her thumb and closed it in her palm and drew the same closer to her lips. Tears blinded her sight as they travelled from her eyes, collecting the rosy hue of her cheeks and painful sighs from her lips and resting on her closed fists placed under her chin that had the locket.
“You no more exist for us from this very moment. Take your stuff and leave” a stern father ostracised his very own daughter whom he loved so dearly. Kim kept staring as the doors shut right in her face.
Someone banging on the door incessantly brought Kim back to her senses. She went to check but could find no one. Got inside and noticed that it was almost time to pick up Nora from school. She hurried up and reached school.
As the school bell rang, the air was filled with fun and frolic as the chirping kids made their way out of the classrooms towards the school gate. They called it a day and had many things to share that transpired throughout the day. They were gushing about the details of the day, smiling ear to ear, waiting for their loved ones to pick them up. Amidst those happy faces, Kim spotted the sulking face of Nora, which by the time had turned red matching the tie of her school uniform.
“Aww, my darling what happened to you? Why are you sad? Did something happen at the school? Did you have a fight with your friends? Did anyone say something to you?” Kim asked a sad-looking Nora.
“My friends call me funny, I told them not to” complained Nora rolling her eyes. Her mother smiled and said that it isn’t bad to be funny and asked what has actually transpired.
Rubbing her nose, Nora replied “Meetu’s mom came early to pick Meetu and she is friends with our teacher. She was showing her new necklace to the teacher and I saw her pet dog making faces. The dog was saying she is just showing off, it was all fake. I told the same to my friends and they are laughing at me. I am not lying, I heard it, I promise. I am not going to talk to them now” Nora threw a fit of a tantrum.
Kim didn’t know how to react to that story. She was smiling at the innocence of the kid and was wondering at the same time what has made her cook up this story because she was convinced that this story is Nora’s brainchild, probably due to reading too many fantasy stories. But she didn’t want to upset Nora further at this point. She lovingly put her arms around Nora’s shoulder and said “next time you hear anything like that you can share it with me. I am all ears to such interesting conversations. And such banters are common in school, I too have had many such incidents where my friends laughed at me. Let it go. They will too forget by tomorrow. Would you like to have ice cream now?”.
This proposal lifted up Nora’s spirits and she was exhilarated with joy. “Yes of course mom, I would like to have a chocolate ice cream”.
Mother and daughter went to a nearby ice cream parlour and ordered ice cream. As they were waiting for the order to arrive, a rat coming out of the small hole in the godown adjacent to the shop caught Nora’s attention. She heard the faint voice of the rat saying “let me hurry up and go home, I have to inform my family that that dreaded cat is in the town. We need to find a safe haven”. The rat soon disappeared and the ice cream arrived. Nora this time didn’t pay much attention as she indulged herself in devouring the taste of ice cream.