She cried for a couple of minutes more, but once she realized that there would be no one coming towards her, she stood up. She gathered her wet cloths and started walking back towards home.
“It’s not my fault at all,” she told to herself. “I asked father to bring a soap case along with the soap. He did not bring it last time too. I warned him about this. Maybe, I did. Whatever, but it’s not my fault. It’s his fault that I lost the soap today. I would not cry anymore. Why should I? Even Lailee lost her soap the other day and she borrowed mine. And this time, it’s not my mistake. I’ll ask father to buy me one more soap and this time and a soap case as well – the pink one!” She was confident now and had all the answers to father’s probable questions.
Shona talked to herself all the way home. She was convinced that it was not her liability that the soap was lost. She was even prepared to face her father now and was sure to scold him for not buying her the case. She would not let him escape by scolding her for no fault of her own. After all, the soap was lost for the want of a case!
She looked around as she crossed the fencing around their house. There was no one there; probably the ladies were all asleep and her father was obviously in the field. She crept in silently. She went to the hanging lines and hung her cloths. She paid her regards to the Gods in the small temple and went inside the house. Everybody else was asleep, as she thought. She went to the kitchen and had her lunch. It was almost time to go to play now and she did not waste a single moment to reach Lailee’s house. She had forgotten about the soap totally by now.
She came back before dusk, cleaned herself and took out her books. She sat on the mat with a bowlful of puffed rice mixed with onions and some mustard oil. It was almost dark and she had to use the lantern. She has just started learning the alphabet and it was fun for her. Everything was so new and funny. No one in the house could read any of those symbols there. If it would not have been for her selfless teaching, her father would not have been able to recognize anything from that book. She was proud because of that and used to put a lot of effort while studying and teaching. She had almost finished the alphabet now and would start learning the digits in some days. She was very happy. She took out the book and started to read the letters on top of her voice.
“Shonaaa…” Her father called her aloud once he entered the premises of the house. She ran out of the house and leaped on him, as any other good evening. The very touch of her father sunk something deep inside her. She remembered the soap! Oh! All her happiness disappeared. She felt vanquished. All her thoughts of self confidence vanished. She was in her father’s arms – the safest place in the world she knew; but that could not stop her from howling out! She grabbed her father with both hands; as tightly as possible and broke into tears. Father kept on asking what happened but did not get a reply. She kept on shedding tears as he was holding her close to him. She cried and cried more and when she was tired, she slept – all the time in her father’s arms. After a long time when there was no more sound and no more tears on his shoulders, the father realized that Shona was asleep. He shook her a little and got no response. He took her to the bed and slowly but carefully laid her down. Just before he left her, two words came out of her mouth, which made no sense to him, “Soap Case.”
Also posted at: Thus Spake Tan! on February 25, 2009.
Written on Theme suggested in Heads or Tails.