Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Children adore their parents’ affection and at times, their innocence makes them struggle as they try to comprehend why they are no longer receiving their parents’ undivided affection.
“Ritu’s Favorite Teddy” by Maneesha Pujari reflects the consequence of a decision taken by a mother in order to secure their child’s future.
I woke up as my smartwatch vibrated indicating the alarm. I tried double tapping it in an attempt to turn it off but my effort didn’t pay back. Giving up, I woke up and sleepwalked to the window near my bed. The sound of water dripping from clouds felt refreshing as the cold breeze tickled me.
I wished it was the weekend today so that I could stay back and enjoy these little pleasures; the earthy smell of rain, the rhythmic pitter-patters with a cup of hot coffee.
Like a rejection of my wish, a sudden shrill of Rihanna’s ‘Work’ came from my phone. Peering towards the phone, I hesitantly picked up Arun’s wake-up call.
“You woke up buddy?” he asked.
While I replied, “Yes.”
He continued, “Okay, start early then! It’s raining and you could get late due to a surge in traffic. See you at the office.”
Before I could even respond, he had hung up.
I quickly rushed to the main door only to realize that the road in front of our porch is fully covered with water. I collected the newspaper which was dropped outside the main door and rushed to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
The kitchen was all messy with a lot of unwashed utensils in the sink. I cursed myself for skipping the task of cleaning the dishes last night. Letting them wait a little while longer, I went to Ritu’s room to check if she had woken up.
As soon as I entered her room, I could see her sleeping with her curly hair loose in her minion-printed night suit while holding her new teddy bear. Looking around, I could see all her toys and Peppa Pig books lying on the floor.
After arranging all of her books in a two feet height rack and placing her toys in the mesh-hanger, I could see the Sun paying a visit after the early morning showers. In an attempt to not let the rays disturb Ritu, I closed the curtains in her room.
Though I hoped to not make noise, to my disappointment as soon as I turned around after closing the curtain, I could see Ritu sitting on her bed, with a puzzled expression. Taking her in my arms, I asked while caressing her forehead, “Why did my Ritu wake up early today?”
She closed her eyes and placed her head on my shoulder. There was no reply and I was concerned. Her gloomy face said something was wrong and as usual, I took her to the garden in the backyard where she spent most of her time playing; with the hope that it might boost her mood.
As we stepped out to walk into the wet garden, Ritu turned to me before saying, “Momma, I saw...”
Holding her face between my hands, I curiously asked, “My sweetling, what is it?”
As I felt her cold face, Ritu replied, “I saw Papa but when I opened my eyes, he was not by my side. Why is he not beside me?”
While I was bereft of speech, she said, “I am bored without him.”
It was just a week ago that her dad had left for his onsite project and Ritu was already missing him. I cursed myself for insisting that he signed the new project agreement. Had I anticipated the impact it would have on our baby girl, I wouldn’t have. I walked back into the home to video-call him even though he would have already slept.
I wish the next few weeks roll by soon and Ritu hugs her favourite teddy as soon as possible.
This anthology is available in paperback & ebook.