“Riya, are you going somewhere?” questioned Smita, the concern was evident in her voice.

“Yes Mumma. I told you the other day that I had to go on my classmate’s birthday get together,” answered Riya, her annoyance was obvious.

“But beta, you should have told me earlier. I would have dropped you at the venue. Now the car is not available,” an overprotective mother couldn’t help asking.

“Oh mumma, I have already planned with my other friends. We will go and come back together. Don’t worry. I am quite grown up now.” The teenager walked out of the house without even waiting for the reply.

‘Did I ask anything wrong? Is it wrong to show her even my concern?’ wondered a disappointed Smita.

Smita looked at the clock, it was 8 pm. She called up at Riya’s number but Riya disconnected the call. Five minutes later, Riya entered the room.

“Hi Mom, I was just at the gate thus didn’t take your call,” said a seemingly happy Ria.

“Riya, you shall at least inform beforehand that what time you will be back. Do you know how much I was worried?” blurted an angry Smita.

“Mumma,not again. You are always thrusting pressures on me. Right now I am totally tired and I had my dinner so please don’t disturb me,” Riya’s joyful face had converted into an angry one.

 Smita wasn’t able to handle Riya’s defiance anymore. May be this was a mere teenage related issue, yet Smita wasn’t able to bear the rudeness and short temper, her daughter depicted. Also, Smita knew that there was no use of discussing the issue with Satyam; her exceptionally calm and composed husband. He always attributed Riya’s behavioral swings to her growing age.

“Smita,stop stalking her. She needs her own space. You can’t expect her to behave the same way as we did in our time,” concluded Satyam as always.

Nothing was helping an anxious and disturbed Smita. Suddenly, she remembered some learned astrologer her friend Madhu had talked about. Without further delay, she dialed her number,” Hello Madhu, do you remember you told me about that babaji……?

    A hopeful and apprehensive Smita was sitting in a small waiting room waiting for her turn,” so many people are sitting here. He will definitely help me out.” She hadn’t informed Satyam about her visit lest he would declare her insane.” He will never understand my predicament.”

Finally her number flashed and she entered the room. Right in front, an old man in his seventies clad in dhoti kurta was sitting.

On being asked about her purpose of visit, she recited her so called ‘ordeal’; it was indeed a big deal for her.

A smiling babaji asked her the solution she expected.

“Baba, I want my daughter to understand my importance. I don’t want her to take me for granted. Can you give me some potion that can just make me disappear so that she gets her lesson,” quipped a frustrated Smita.

Smita was taken aback when he gave her a small sachet and said,” just because you insist, I am giving you this powder. Once you consume it, you will be invisible for complete one day!’

While going back, Smita had chalked her plan, now Riya will understand.

She called up Satyam,” I am going to my cousin’s house as she is alone. I will return tomorrow.”

Now this duo will understand how unjustified they are,” Smita grinned. She was too excited to wait, within next few seconds the sachet was empty. Smita was elated when she didn’t see her reflection in the mirror. Now she waited for Riya to come back from tuition.

Soon, Riya came back. She was amused when she saw the note on the fridge,” Riya, I am going to your aunt’s house. I will be back tomorrow.”

Sitting at the sofa, Smita was trying to read the expressions on her girl’s face. Riya made her favourite maggi and devoured it. An insecure Smita was trying to figure out whether Riya was enjoying her absence or missing her.

After Satyam came back home, father daughter duo ordered the chicken curry.

Oh Riya eats chicken though I forbade her.”   Smita’s thoughts were interrupted by Satyam’s words, “So Riya, you must be happy that your mom is not around; full freedom.”

Smita felt really bad. Was this true? 

Few seconds later, Riya answered, “Dad honestly, I am relishing my chicken curry. I am enjoying the silence and I am relaxed that I don’t have to answer her volley of questions. But then, I know that she cares for me and loves me too.”

Smita was startled, “Does Riya acknowledge my love for her?” At that moment, she wanted to hug her piece of heart but Gosh! She couldn’t. 

Riya continued,” I know I get impatient with her at times but I am not able to control my outburst. If she could understand that I too am a grown up girl and will never disrupt her faith, we will be a happier lot. Dad, you know yesterday, when I came back from the party, I was so excited to share with her the news that I was applauded for my singing but she just blasted on me for getting late. It just put me off. Today, I wanted to apologize to her but she left for aunt’s place.”

Smita was dumbfounded,” I wish I could reappear and apologise to her for not understanding her thought process!”

Meanwhile Satyam had brought the icecream from fridge. 

“Dad, I wish Mumma gets a bit easier and relaxed at her approach. I yearn for a better bond with her.”

By now Smita was completely shaken, she just couldn’t cry. She wanted to wipe Riya’s tears but her hands passed through her face. She had to wait till next day evening.

How will I wait till tomorrow evening?” wondered the remorseful mother.

***

When was the last time you read some modern sea stories—stories of ships and the seafarers who man them? Tales of adventure, love, romance, piracy, intrigue... and human nature? Well, look no further.

These are twelve stories of the sea, but not necessarily for seafarers alone. They are for anybody and everybody who likes to read fiction. And a ripping good yarn, as sailors used to say once upon a time.

Written by a sea captain who has spent his entire adult life at sea, more than forty years on the waves and still counting, these are stories set in the 70s, 80s up till the present day.

Will you come aboard now? The voyage is about to begin.

Link to buy this book: https://www.amazon.in/Driftwood-Beetashok-Chatterjee/dp/9385854771 and also at selected bookstores all over India.


Author:Beetashok Chatterjee, ex-Claws Club member at ArtoonsInn.

***

The story you've read is an entry for UniK-5, #Invisible, a room8 Writing event by ArtoonsInn.
Check the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/unik-5-writing-event-artoonsinn/

Photo By: Farrel Nobel

Thanks for reading.

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