To read the part 1, click here
Janani walked fast towards the milk depot. Her grandmother was waiting in the queue. She had to hurry and give her the milk container and tokens. They had recently moved to this suburb. It was still developing and mostly green and wild. Janani had seen snakes a few times when she played with her friends. She was used to small animals like mongoose, wild pigs and deer. Janani will be 10 years in a few months; her mom had promised to buy cake. She smiled as she thought of that.
Shekkar walked with small steps behind Janani. He smiled vilely as he thought how easy this was going to be. Shekkar had recently moved in with his parents. He worked in the local post office and loved young women; a name he used for girl children. His plan was clear in his mind. Surprise her, grab her and run. Should be easy. She was quite small. As he thought of his plan, he moved fast.
“Hey!” he heard a girl call. He turned to see who it was. There was no one. When he turned to look at Janani, she was running–hopping and moving further away. “Shit!” he swore and walked fast. “Hey! Shekkar!” he heard the voice again. The voice was sweet and delicious to his corrupt mind. He turned to see who it was. A small girl was standing in front of him. She wore a blue frock. She smiled at him. She had a brown complexion, black eyes and uneven teeth. She had two badly made plaits. Sunlight reflected off her shiny earrings. She wore a small bindi and a streak of vibudhi in her forehead. Her hair was too straight.
“Hey…….!!” Cooed Shekkar, “Hey baby! How do you know my name?” his was not afraid of the little girl, and he went to crouch in front of her. Her eyes were shining. They were too bright. He felt like she was delving into his soul. He swallowed. He was a little scared now. He could not look away. He felt like she was washing his mind and soul. He was in excruciating pain but could not shout or move. The pain suddenly stopped. She placed a hand on his shoulders and said, “Go now!”
There was just one destination in Shekkar’s mind. He felt like he would die if he did not speak the truth to the police. So! he walked! Walked fast towards the police station.
“Paati!” yelled Janani fondly. Her grandmother turned to look at Janani with a bright smile. “You came straight to the milk depot, right? Did not stop to play with some animal?” asked her grandmother. “No Granny! Just one bad animal… but ‘bright eyes’ took care of him,” said Janani as she played with a loose thread on her sleeve. Her grandmother sighed and caressed Janani’s head. Janani had been seeing things that others do not from a young age. She was worried about her. She turned to look at the milk counter. Mrs. Narendhran was inserting the milk token in the slot. The token was for ½ liter. Milk poured into the container Mrs. Narandhran had placed. She took container and left.
As they moved from 10th in line to 3rd in line, “Ambujam Maami…. Getting milk?” asked Mr. Baasi hoping to start a conversation. Ambujam, Janani’s grandmother, smiled and nodded. Baasi opened a milk sweet wrapped in butter paper and talked as he split it into two, “Keep Janu safe,” he said pointing to Janani, “Just heard from the sub-inspector that a bad guy surrendered in the police station. The bastard had been targeting children,” he said and gave half the sweet to Janani. Janani smiled and got the sweet from him.
“OK then! See you around,” he said to Ambujam and walked away. Ambujam turned to Janani who was intently eating the sweet. “Did ‘bright eyes’ do this?” she asked. Janani nodded. “Next time you see bright eyes, tell me. I want to talk to her,” said Ambujam.
Janani looked surprised. “Paati! She does not show up when you are there. I am safe with you,” said Janani and continued to eat the sweet. “Right!” chuckled Ambujam.
“What are you going to name the child?” asked the pandit in the temple. “Janani,” replied Ashokan with glee. He held the child carefully as he covered her up more, since she kicked the sheets off.
The pandit recited few hymns and placed vibudhi on Janani’s forehead. Ashokan gave the child to Parimala and thanked the pandit.
As they were leaving the temple, “Wait!” said the pandit and ran towards them. “Wait! Here..” he handed a bowl of Sakkara Pongal. “Today is a special day. We had performed special pooja and this is the neivedhyam,” he said, “Unfortunately, due to the rain, not many devotees turned up. Please take this,” said the pandit.
Ashokan smiled and took the bowl form him. “Go safely!” said the pandit and left.
“Ashok! Do you want Sakkara Pongal?” asked Parimala when they got home and settled down. Janani was an active child for a newborn. She kicked nonstop and always turned to her side. Parimala was worried and placed Janani on a small bed near the kitchen to keep an eye on her.
“Yes please!” said Ashokan as he played with Janani. “Hey! She is looking right at me. Is that normal?” asked Ashokan in-between making funny faces.
“Don’t know!” said Parimala, “I should ask amma.”
“See! She is following me!” said Ashokan and jumped. The baby’s eyes were following his actions. “Here!” said Parimala and handed a bowl of Sakkara Pongal to Ashokan. As they ate the sweet dish, they both felt sleepy. Soon, after few bites, both the parents fell asleep beside the baby.
“Wa…. Na.. wa….” Janani made sounds and tried to lift her hips up. A small girl in blue frock walked towards the baby and sat near her. She started to played with the baby’s chubby cheeks. “You are such a cutie!” said the girl. She lay down beside the baby. The baby looked at the girl and smiled. “You understand me! Don’t you?” asked the girl. “Ca… tha….. ca…” said the baby.
“I know you can!” said the girl and rested her head beside the baby’s thin pillow. “I am here to welcome you!” said the girl and sighed happily. The girl stood up and went to the kitchen. She looked at the bowl with Sakkara Pongal. A spoon by itself scooped the sweet dish and started to feed the girl. “Your neivedhyam is delicious,” said the girl as she looked at the baby who was trying to move her legs and turn her head in an angle to look at the girl. The girl chuckled and went to lift the baby up. After half hour, the girl placed the baby in her small bed and left.
To read the part 3, click here