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Supriya Parulekar, 19 Jan '13

The Secret

The colorful jar with its contents, placed on top of the little table in the room resembled like a colorful lamp from some outer planet. Next to it sat Mia, the mermaid doll. She was very attractive with doe shaped eyes, long drooping eyelashes, slender hands with jingling bracelet around her wrist that twinkled in the night. She also had a sea-green scaly tail that curved daintily at the end. Her right hand with the bracelet rested on her tail and her left hand was palm down as if to balance her stance. She looked coyly at you with a perfect pout to match.

In scampered a little girl around 6 years old and picked up Mia. She looked around to make sure no one was around and whispered to her doll.

‘Tonight is the big night as you promised...’ Their interlude was broken by cries of ‘Sara…Sara…’ followed by the owner of the voice itself.

‘Sara honey…there you are! Come here dear I want to talk to you.’

Sara was still holding on to her doll when her mum, Liz walked in. She obediently went and sat next to her mom. Liz looked at the doll and then at the jar. Did it look extra bright today?

Weird! At times she had thought of throwing it away but then gave up as her daughter had collected the colorful pebbles, shiny shells, some strange looking weeds and sunlit sand during her rendezvous to the beach every evening. Liz was momentarily distracted there. The doll was a birthday present for Sara from her granny and Sara had fallen in love with it the moment she had seen it. Since then the two were inseparable.

Sara was the only daughter of Aaron and Liz. Liz thought her daughter was special as she was born on one of their voyage in the middle of the sea. Aaron and she had gone on a short vacation when Liz was 7 months pregnant with Sara. The evening was just perfect. Liz rested on one of the lounge chairs while Aaron pampered her with grilled fish and wine. Suddenly dark clouds gathered above them. Aaron looked up at the skies quizzically. It was sunny and perfect a little while ago and now they were in for a storm. As he led Liz in to the cabins she gave out a cry clutching on to her stomach. She had gone in to labor. A doctor from the ship was summoned as Liz delivered a beautiful girl while the storm raised a hell. The huge waves lashed their boat as if wanting them to give up something which did not belong to them.

‘Mum…mum…’ Sara’s soft voice broke her reverie.

‘Honey…can you stay indoors today? I know how much you enjoy going out to the beach but dad has planned a barbeque tonight with his friends and I will be busy with the preparations. I want you around honey. You know I am just worried…I mean you go out and then forget the time and that worries me…’

‘Mum…don’t worry I won’t be alone. Mia is with me.’ Sara said innocently as she cuddled her doll.

‘Sara…honey…Mia is just a doll.’ Liz then saw the dejected look cross her daughters face. She kneeled down and gently squeezed Sara’s shoulders, planting a kiss on her forehead.

'Fine, you can play with Mia but on the porch. I will get the swing for you on the front. Then even mum can keep an eye on you as she works. Okay…sweets?’

Sara looked at Mia and for a second gave it a thought. Liz waited anxiously. She wanted the evening to be perfect. At the same time worried about her daughter’s long disappearances in the evenings. Liz made mental note of speaking to Aaron about it.

Sara nodded her head and promised she would not go to the beach today. Liz heaved a sigh of relief. She was about to leave when she stopped, feeling a tug at her dress.

‘Mum…can I have the shiny blue dress you stitched for Mia. It’s a special day for her today.’ Sara implored with her sea-blue eyes.

Liz wanted to know about Mia's special day but was too preoccupied with the impending barbeque preparations. She smiled and opened the closet. There wrapped in a soft pink cloth was the most beautiful dress Sara had seen.

Sara gasped in wonder, ‘Mum…its beautiful…’

‘Glad you loved it. Come here, give mum a hug.’ Sara ran in to her mother’s arms all the while holding the doll.

Nobody noticed the twinkle in Mia’s eyes and neither saw her waving at the black raven in the window that flew away.

That evening Liz got busy with the preparations as Sara played with Mia. Liz saw her daughter sitting on the swing, dressing up Mia, combing her long golden tresses. Liz smiled to herself. As she marinated the chicken and put the bread to bake, she did not notice her daughter slip away towards the beach. It was only when Aaron arrived with his friends and called for Sara that Liz looked towards the swing.

Liz was shocked as she stared at the empty swing rocking in the salty breeze.
                                                                 To be cont…..