The long wait at the airport was not boring at all because women in bright saris, glittering nose studs, and marigolds in their tightly plaited hair smiled friendly greetings at one another. Lean, dark men in Dhotis hung around drinking tea and munching sandwiches. Few youngsters, probably students, with their backpacks, few well-dressed, restless corporates made up the crowd in the lounge.
Beyond the high roof of the airport, the blue sky looked gorgeous. Electronic screens blinked the arrivals and departures of various flights from the world over. A cleaning lady was washing the floor using a machine, trying to keep the wires out of the way of luggage and busy feet.
Without thinking, the habit born out countless business trips, catching up with life in transit, I opened my inbox to find, amongst countless meaningless work related babble, my daughter’s mail. I read the words, “Mamma I miss you.” followed by an account of her Li’l Kitty’s antics, the books she’s been trying to read and her walks with Granma, who was her friend when Mamma was out of town.
At the very end of the mail were the words, “Mamma, what gift have you got me?”
Oh God! I had forgotten to buy a gift for her and now, at the airport what could I buy? I looked at the many rows of shops filled with perfumes, CD’s and told myself I had been a complete idiot, forgetting to buy a gift for the most important person in my life!
I heard a tinkling of tiny bells and saw a little one running to her Mamma with lovely silver anklets on her feet. I knew I had to get those for my daughter. I ran around the place and finally managed to find a cute anklet from a shop almost hidden away in a corner. It had tiny bells and a lovely design of flowers round it.
Many years ago, on my feet too were anklets that tinkled. It had tinkled merrily just after we came back from the jewelers and I had proudly taken it out of its velvet box. It had taken a lot of persuasion from mom to get dad to buy it for me in spite of our hardships. It was no wonder that mom was so angry with me the day I came home declaring I had lost it. She dragged me back in the fading light to the playground and we searched for it long. But we never discovered it and I had cursed the stupid anklet and sworn never to wear another one afterwards!
For years I had forgotten all about it and now I was surprised at myself for wanting to get something like that for my daughter! Would she love it? Or probably hate it as being too girlish and Indian.
Back home as I watched her open the gift, I was sure she would not like it.
She opened it very quietly and thanked me solemnly and walked to her room.
No show of boisterous jubilation, no smothering hug.
She had been uncharacteristically quiet.
My gift was not what she had expected and she was too polite to hurt me.
Heart heavy with a vague consciousness of rejection, just as I turned to my desk, I heard her right behind me.
“Mamma, I know the story of how you wanted the same silver anklet that all your friends had and you didn’t. I know you wanted it so badly that grandpa scraped up all that he had to get you one. I know how upset you must have been when you lost it. I will keep this safe and wear it only when we go for special functions."
My eyes filled with tears and I realized suddenly why I had wanted to buy her the anklets.
This is my short story for the Write On Weekend.
The words given were, perfumes, CD, idiot.
Hope you enjoyed reading this.
Linking up with Sian and her group of writers at Storytelling Sunday.
This story is pure fiction. I do not have a daughter. But I was a daughter long ago. :-)