TEAM - WORD WEAVERS
SOUL OF A STAR
Read the previous part of the story here
Chapter – 18
“Barbie!!!” squealed Roohi in delight. Her eyes gleamed as she rushed towards a Barbie dressed like an Indian bride. She looked around and noticed that nobody is overseeing her. She picked the doll with care and caressed the long tresses.
“Beta, you like Barbie”, asked a middle aged woman with petite figure. She had a short hair and was wearing yellow harem pants over a white sleeveless top. Roohi nodded timidly. She was scared that the woman might snatch the doll. Her mother always did. “Rooh, how many times I have told you not to touch Barbie”, Tara always used to remind. Tara was a very thoughtful mother. She never encouraged Roohi to buy Barbie. Tara had read somewhere that Barbie’s ultra-thin body impacts the tender minds of children and lead to negative body image and unhealthy eating patterns.
“Take it” the woman said flashing a kind small.
“Thank you”, Roohi said excitedly.
“You are such a chocolate pie. You can call me Cinderella” the woman said.
Roohi looked surprised. She remembered that one of Baba’s bed time stories for her was that of Cinderella. Roohi always loved Cinderella. Although she had outgrown, she still cherished the pink Cinderella dress that her amma had gifted on her fifth birthday.
“Cinderella?! Is that your name?” asked Roohi excitedly.
The woman nodded and kissed Roohi on both the cheeks. She also gave four chocolates; two for Roohi and two for Barbie. Roohi was elated. “I will call my Barbie Cinderella, Ms Cinderella”, she said and found a place in the corner of the room to play.
Roohi’s time with Barbie was interrupted when a five year old started crying.
“Mummy, Mummy… Take me to mummy”, she continued to shout. Cinderalla tried to console the child. But, she was inconsolable. She started hitting the ground and refused to eat chocolate or play with her gigantic teddy bear. Her wails made more kids to cry for their mothers.
The walls in the room were painted baby pink and the ceiling in sky blue. There were several shelves stacked with dolls like Barbie, Teddy Bear, Mickey Mouse and even Chota Bheem! There were also picture books and comics. Hot wheels and toy trains were scattered around and there were building blocks too. As a brownie, there were chocolates everywhere. Some were molded creatively in the form of birds, animals, mobile phones, houses, cars and some were wrapped attractively.
Cinderella tried to calm down the children by showering them with more chocolates or by handing over a soft toy. But, the pandemonium was unstoppable and cacophony was unmanageable. She tried to feed them milk or console them by saying that she would bring their mothers soon. But, the kids responded back by crying louder.
Cinderella is famous in her team for her never-ending stock of patience. She had a way with kids. She made a fake call in her iPhone and talked aloud, “Hello, madam. I am Cinderella. Your child is waiting for you. Okay. You are on the way to pick them up. Wow! You are also planning to buy ice cream for them. Come soon. Bubbye” she smiled. She noticed that the children were smiling too and were resuming to play.
In spite of the whines and cries, Cinderella didn’t fail to observe Roohi. She was happily settled in the corner playing with her Barbie, singing songs and also writing something every now and then.
“Roohijaan, what are you doing beta?” asked Cinderella. She was amazed that Roohi didn’t cry or make any effort to go back to her parents. She was always at ease in her own world. It intrigued Cinderella.
“My Cindy is hungry. Can you give us chocolates? Do you have a chocolate that looks like Cindy”, Roohi asked innocently. Cinderella immediately realized that Cindy is the pet name that Roohi had given to her Barbie which was named Cinderella some time before.
“Beta, don’t you want to see your mother like all your friends”, Cinderella asked. Such a question would have attracted disapprovals from her mentors. As a caretaker, she is not supposed to ask or do anything that would slightly remind the children of their parents, family or home. But, she could not resist. Roohi was so different.
“No”, Roohi declared confidently. Cinderella drew Roohi closer and asked, “Why?”
“Amma never lets me eat chocolates. She says my tooth would decay and everybody would call me granny” said Roohi while nibbling a boots shaped chocolate. “Amma also never lets me buy Barbie. She says I am too young to own one. But, I love Barbie. Ms Cinderella, I have a secret.” She asked Cinderella to come closer. “My amma looks like a Barbie. And, when I am with Barbie, I feel like I am with my amma” She whispered in Cinderella’s ears.
“What about your father?” Cinderella asked. She couldn’t conceal the urge to know more about Roohi. “My baba loves me a lot. He buys me gifts, bakes cookies, ties my hair into two pony tails every day, reads me stories at bed time and listens to my poems and songs. He never takes rest. So, if I am with you, here, he would sleep well. He need not worry about me. So, I am happy” said Roohi. Her eyes shone when she talked about her father.
Roohi opened the tiny book on which she was making notes earlier and showed it to Cinderella. Her handwriting was impeccable.
“Waiting for the night.
So that I could see the star”
“You know, my mother’s name is Tara which means star. Amma works very hard. She always comes home late at night. I try to stay awake as much as possible by counting stars. But, I always fall asleep”, Roohi said as if she could read Cinderella’s mind.
Cinderella turned the next page. It read:
“I count the stars;
And try to see your face in them.
Until I could see you.
Until you come to kiss me Good Night.
I wish the night never ends.
And stars never fade.”
Cinderella was awestruck. Roohi was just nine years old. But, her thoughts looked beyond her age. It had an extraordinary ability to speak volumes in just few words.
The next page read:
“I want you to kiss me.
“You write like an angel”, said Cinderella. Her eyes shone with pride. She kissed Roohi’s forehead. Each word conveyed an innocent child’s craving for her mother and her unbound love.
Can a child be like this, she wondered.
It’s been almost a day since Roohi was skillfully kidnapped from the Apollo hospital. “We smiled. Gave her chocolate molded like a big open book and the child smiled back. You know, she willingly walked with us when we told her that we have chocolates that looks like piano and laptops. But, she warned us to make less noise so that her father could sleep and take rest. This child is strange”, the henchmen had told her.
She couldn’t stop wondering why their boss had asked to take special care of Roohi. But, she never dared to ask questions. She is trained not to question her seniors. She is also trained to excel in whatever is assigned to her.
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