“I hate him. I hate him, Mumma,” Tara sobbed silently. She was sitting under her study table, her chin resting on her knees, as she stared into the darkness in her room.
She took a deep breath, trying hard to hold her tears but in vain. A salty pearl trickled down her cheek and landed on the photo frame in her hands. The moonlight peeping through the space between the two curtains on the window made it twinkle like a star.
“It’s not my fault, he shouted. You know na? He hates me,” she said through a stream of tears.
“I have… always.. tried to.. do things… that would.. make him happy… that would… make him love me… but… but he… has always.. hated me.”
Tara turned the photo frame and wiped her tears off it on her jeans.
“And today, I hate him too. I was playing with my friends. That bully Rajan came and teased me again because Mausi came for the PTA meeting yet again. He made fun that my parents don’t love me. His chamche Montu and Ronny joined him,” Tara started to shiver.
“Tara ka nahi koi pyara,
Mummy iski ban gayi sitara,
Papa isko samjhte khatara,
Gayab ho jaa band hoke in a pitara,
Tara ka koi nahi pyara,
Gayab ho jaa band hoke in a pitara.”
The song still ringing loudly in her ears made her red with anger.
“IS THAT HOW YOU TREAT YOUR FRIENDS, TARA? SAY SORRY TO HIM,” Tara red face turned pale. Her father’s furious voice made her shrink with fear.
It was the first time he spoke to her in 10 years. She had not imagined that he would do it like this.
She tried to explain why she had punched Rajan, but Suraj cut her in between, “I asked you to do something. Apologise to your friend,” as he moved forward with his back facing her bullies.
Rajan, Montu and Ronny grinned.
Tara stamped her foot on the ground. “They are not my friends,” she declared and ran down the street to enter the last house on the right.
“Forget love, he has never expressed care or concern for me. He loathes me. He hates my existence,” her voice was helpless. She didn’t realise when her cheeks dried.
“Why did you leave Mumma? Did you go because of me? Did I… like he says…did I… kill you?” she asked the lifeless photo as a void filled her heart.
A muscular shadow that was peeping quietly through the door of her room broke down and landed on the floor. Another thin shadow stopped it from hitting self.
“Jiju, it’s time you forgive yourself. It’s time for her to know the truth.”
The muscular shadow nodded.