Caught on camera!

Caught on camera!

The second time it happened, Vasuki’s parents found out before the meeting. But this time it was clear to her parents that Vasuki hadn’t ‘forgotten’, but was actually hoping her parents would forget! Her mother’s first reaction was that Vasuki had got into trouble at school. But when she heard her daughter hurriedly say, “Papa, why don’t YOU attend for a change? Other girls bring their fathers to school”, Vasuki’s mother understood what the problem was!

As a Std 8 student, Vasuki Muralidar was hugely embarrassed that her mother was expecting another baby. From conversations with the mothers of Vasuki’s friends, Mrs Muralidar realised that Vasuki hadn’t told even her best friend that a baby would be arriving within the next month! For someone who could never keep a secret, Vasuki had hidden her 8-month-pregnant mother quite efficiently. None of her friends had been invited home ever since Mrs Muralidar’s stomach began to show. So naturally, the thought of a PTM, with a visibly expecting mother must have caused Vasuki immense worries.

Her mother and father exchanged looks, in quiet understanding, and Mr Muralidar said, “Yes, my angel, I think it’s time this father started showing up in school! I don’t want your Mama to get all the credit for bringing up this smart daughter of mine.” Vasuki’s face glowed…not with pride at her father’s compliment, but out of sheer relief.

Mrs Muralidar began to worry about how much longer Vasuki planned to keep this a secret. Her daughter always brought her friends home…for meals, to celebrate festivals, for sleep-overs, for combined study…how much longer could she manage to live without them, her mother wondered.

Well, the baby arrived…a little girl with big black eyes, hardly any hair and little finger nails that were so long that they needed clipping on the very first day. Vasuki instantly fell head over heels in love with her little sister. Friends were genuinely forgotten;
homework suffered and the girl who normally arrived at home a full hour after the bus dropped her off because she chatted up everybody in the neighbourhood, would slip into the baby’s room, minutes after the bus drove off!

As the baby’s naming ceremony approached, Mr Muralidar broached the topic one day, “Is there anyone you want to invite for the ceremony, Vasuki?” Her father knew the question would worry her, but he felt the time had come for his daughter to stop leading a double life.

Vasuki spent the evening snuggled up on the bed with little Pria (Vasuki chose the name, and issued orders that it be spent without the ‘y’). Yes, she needed to introduce this new joy in her life to her friend, but how could she do it now, considering she’d kept quiet about Pria’s arrival all these months.

Vasuki suddenly asked herself WHY on earth she’d wanted to keep the whole thing a secret, in the first place. Maybe it was her discomfort with watching her mother change, right in front of her eyes. Her smart, busy mother had slowed down and grown pale and lethargic, as the baby had grown inside her. Vasuki felt bad about hiding her mother from her friends. She decided that she had behaved in quite a silly manner. Now, she needed yet more time to break the news to her gang because she was so embarrassed by her OWN behaviour! Kavya, her best friend, would certain tease her about being so silly.

The day before Pria’s naming ceremony, when the house was full of aunts and cousins, Vasuki ran to open the front door when the bell rang. And there stood her whole gang on the doorstep, with a big bunch of flowers. Vasuki was too stunned to speak, but Kavya grabbed her hand and asked, “Why didn’t you tell us?” Vasuki remained tongue-tied, but her friends were chattering away. “Where’s the baby?” “How’s aunty?”

“No wonder you were missing every evening…” Finally what cleared her head were the words, “But you both look really cute in the photograph…” uttered by Bhavya.

“What photograph?” Vasuki finally managed to ask. And Bhavya waved a newspaper cutting under her nose. It was of Pria and Vasuki on the bed, and it was the prize-winning entry for FotoZone’s ‘Family Fotos’ competition. And who had sent the picture?

As Vasuki squinted to read the fine print, she found her aunt’s name! Vasuki laughed out loud. What a relief that some one else had done the difficult job for her…she could now share Pria with all her friends.


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