“I don’t understand what is wrong with Ria these days. Why is she quiet and not interested in anything? She was never like this.”, My inner monologue was broken by Ria’s teacher.
“Hi, Mr. Roy! How are you?”
“Very well, thank you.”
“Sorry to call you on urgent notice but I am worried about Ria these days. She has turned into a very silent girl. She is neither active in her class nor she goes out to play during lunch. I tried asking her but she didn’t tell me anything. Is everything alright at home?”, questioned Ms. D’Souza.
“Mam! Everything is good at home. I am noticing the same from past few days. Now, since you are telling this, It is making me nervous.”
“Don’t worry Mr. Roy. Try to probe her by asking different questions. She might open up to her father”, said Ms. D’Souza.
“Sure, Mam. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I shall take your leave now”.
My mind was getting filled with all kinds of thoughts. I had no clue about solving this problem and Ria’s silence was making it more difficult.
I turned my car to market to buy some toys and chocolates. I bought her favorite dairy milk chocolate and a puzzle game to solve the ongoing puzzle inside her.
After that, I picked Ria from school.
“How was your day Ria?”
“It was ok Daddy” was her reply.
“What did you learn today?”
“Did you enjoy the dance class?”
“And, play time?”
My questions ended and so did the way to home.
“Daddy got something for her princess”, I smiled.
Ria was staring outside the car window.
“See baby. Chocolates and puzzle games. You like solving puzzles. Right? Let’s go inside and try solving the puzzle. How does that sound?”
“No. I don’t want to play.” , Ria looked at me.
“Ok. Fine. What does my baby want to do? Should we go to the park today? “
“Hmmm…Should we eat ice cream? It’s very hot here.”
“Cartoon movie? Tom and Jerry? “
“Should we go to Rahul uncle’s place? Do you want to meet Ayan?”
“No”. Ria shouted and ran inside home.
“Ria! Listen baby”, I rushed inside.
“What happened to you? Tell Daddy. Daddy will solve everything.”
“Promise? Will you scold me ?”, asked Ria with eyes filled with tears.
“No baby. Daddy will never scold his princess. Now, tell Daddy and then daddy will solve the problem.”
“I don’t want to go to Rahul uncle’s house. I don’t like him”
“That’s it. Ok, we will not go there. But what happened suddenly. Rahul uncle loves Ria so much. No? And, Ayan is your friend too”.
“No, I don’t want to go there.”
Ria started crying.
“Calm down baby. Ok, we are not going there.”
After Ria stopped crying, she added, “Rahul uncle makes me feel dirty”.
I was shocked and aghast.
“What did you say Ria?”
“Rahul uncle makes me feel dirty, daddy”, Ria was looking down.
“I didn’t understand.”
“He asked me not to tell this to anyone. He said this is a secret game which only he can play with me”, Ria said in her guilty voice.
“Tell the game to daddy. There is no secret between Ria and Daddy. Ria and Daddy are best friends. Right?”, I responded with my already shaking body hoping not to hear the guessed bit.
“Daddy! Last time when I went to play with Ayan. Rahul uncle came to me and gave me a kiss on my cheek and then took me to his room. He said that he would teach me a new game”.
“What was the game Ria?”, My heart beats were in my ears.
“He gave me a chocolate. I asked him whether we should call Ayan as well. He didn’t listen to me. I thought that I will teach this game to Ayan later”. Ria mumbled.
“What was the game Ria?”
“Then he gave me a lolly and asked me to sit on his lap. He said that he will count the numbers till 100 and I need to finish my lolly and for every number, he will give me a kiss as well. But daddy, after some time, I wanted to get down from his lap but he didn’t let me and he held me very tight.”
“Daddy! I was calling you but you went for some work. It felt dirty and Daddy, he asked me not to tell you this”.
I hugged Ria. I was feeling helpless beyond imagination but there was nothing, I could do right now.
“Ria! We will never go to Rahul uncle’s house and Daddy promises you that it will never happen again.”
“It’s time for afternoon nap now. Now you sleep and we will go to park in the evening”
“Ok Daddy”, said my little girl.
After putting Ria to bed, I came to my room, switched on the light and was looking at my reflection in the mirror.
I wish, I could turn back the time and relive my adulthood days. Not exactly the same way though. I wish, I could correct the mistakes I made when I was too young. I wish, I could undo the things which I did to that 6-year-old.
I switched off the light because I could not look into my eyes and past just spat on my face.