“I think so. But what to do?” Ravi asked.
“In such cases, the parents should give full attention, love, and care to their children. Make her believe that you really love her. I think that will help her come out of her trauma.”
“Thank you, doctor! You have helped us the lot,” Ravi shook hands with the doctor and came out. Mini was in the car with Nisha. Nisha was trying to talk to Mini but her blank looks only disheartened Nisha.
They returned home. That night, after Mini had gone to sleep, Ravi told Nisha what the doctor had said.
“Can Mini be cured of her illness?” Nisha asked with seriousness in her tone.
“She will. But it may take a long time. Maybe one month, two months, six months…or…”
“Or … what?” Nisha interrupted.
“Or … maybe some years, “Ravi answered.
Tears rolled down Nisha’s eyes. How could a mother ever bear her daughter’s sickness with gladness? The mother’s heart within her could not hide her feelings for Mini.
Next day Ravi decided to take Mini to school. When Mini went to her class, Ravi had a talk with Mini’s class teacher. He explained Mini’s sickness. “Miss Chowdhary, will you help us?” Ravi asked after explaining to Mini’s teacher.
“Mr. Saxena-you does not worry, I will try my best,” she said.
“Thank you. I hope you understand my problem,” Ravi said and went to his office.
“Good morning Ma’am,” the students said when the teacher came into the classroom.”
“Good morning, children. Mini… how are you?”, The teacher asked with politeness. But Mini did not answer. She stood up quietly with the old, dull, worn out doll close to her chest, and then, without speaking, she sat down. Silence fell in the class.
But the teacher knew very well how to break the silence. “Ok children! take out your books and let’s start with today’s lesson.”
The day went by without any change No one could succeed in breaking Mini’s silence.
Often, she was seen sitting in the garden with that doll in her hand. She would sit there for hours. Her tears had dried and her emotions were dead. She hated talking to anyone. She stopped going for parties or outings. Except for going to school. She did not step out of the home.
Days passed. Time seemed to have brought nothing new with it. Three months had passed. Mini’s teacher tried her best. She told stories Jokes and all she could do to make Mini happy. But she could not change Mini’s mind. Exams came. Mini could not do very well in her exams. She just managed to pass. Finally, the Parent ents came with their parents to take their report cards.
Mini came with her foster parents. Few parents were there. Miss Chowdhary was giving the report card to a boy who had failed in almost the subjects.
“Mr. Deshpandey, Rahul needs to work very hard. He has failed in five subjects.”
Mr.Deshpandey’s face was raging with anger.
“Rahul! what is this I am seeing?” he shouted”.
“Dad! I was ill during the exams,” Rahul answered trembling.
“You fool!” Mr. Deshpandey said and slapped Rahul. Everyone was stunned by this action. Mini was so frightened that she shifted close to Nisha. It was the first time when Mini was so close to her mother. Nisha hugged Mini and came to the teacher’s desk.
“Mr. Deshpandey, this is not your home where you can carry out your indecent act. Please leave at once,” Miss Chowdhary said sternly.
“Good morning, Mr. Saxena said to Miss Chowdhary stepping forward to take the report card.
“Mini has not done well, but I think she will surely improve,” Miss Chowdhary said handing over the report card to Mr. Saxena. Ravi glanced at the report card and said, “It’s fine.I don’t blame my daughter or you for that. I know she is capable of doing much better work. Well, thank you.” These words from Ravi startled Mini. She had expected a similar behavior from Ravi. She returned home with a different feeling.
That night she could not sleep. The scene of the classroom came incessantly in front of her eyes.
Next day she woke up in a different mood. While leaving for school she glances at Nisha and smiled. This was the first time Mini had flashed her such a pleasant smile. She came running to Mini and hugged her, kissing her repeatedly. Tears rolled down her eyes. But these tears reflected happiness. Ravi took Mini with him to school.
“Mr. Saxena, our school tour is going Shimla. If you wish you can send Mini with us,” Miss Chowdhary said, “I think it will help her. She will experience a new atmosphere and she may improve.”
I think you are right. When are you going? Ravi asked.
“Next week,” she replied, “and the charges are one thousand rupees.”
“Ok! I’ll pay the money today itself.”
That afternoon when Ravi came to pick Mini up he gave the money to the tour.
In the night Ravi told Nisha about the trip.
“I think this trip will help Mini to recover,” Nisha said. One week passed without any incident. Finally, the day came when Mini had to go to Shimla. Mini left Bombay that evening for Delhi. Miss Chowdhary took special care of her. She wanted Mini to come out of her shell.
They reached Delhi the next day from where they took a private bus to Shimla. It was almost dark when they reached Shimla. Miss Chowdhary along with few other teachers took the students to their rooms in the hotel. Mini was to share a room with two of her classmates- Rashmi and Sheetal.
At night Rashmi and Sheetal told each other stories. They too tried their best to make Mini talk. But they could not break Mini’s silence.
“Oh! my mother forgot to give me my pillow, “Rashmi exclaimed.”
“And my mother forgot to give me my bed sheet, Sheetal said. Mini looked at her bedding. Nisha had carefully placed all the things compulsory for Mini. There was a strange feeling within Mini. This feeling rose for the first time in Mini’s heart and caused a great stir throughout her soul.