“Mohini, come here sweetheart. It’s time for a nap.”
Mohini’s mother would call out to her every afternoon after the family had their lunch and Mohini’s father went to work again. Mohini was eight-years old and just for age; brimming with innocence and bubbling with life. Out of all the members in her family, it was her mother that she loved the most. She looked forward to this time of the day when she could cuddle up to her mother, tell her things that she’s afraid to trust anybody else with and then peacefully engage herself in the afternoon stupor. Every afternoon, she opened up to reveal her thoughts, her inner self; akin a nine- o’clock bud that blossoms everyday for a specific span of time and then hides under its own imaginary covers. This was her ‘Dear Diary’ moment. Her feelings poured swiftly and effortlessly over the atmosphere of the faintly sun- lit attic and her mother would be all ears. This was a truly tranquil time for her mother too; a momentary pause from everyday chores and anxiety. She loved Mohini truly and selflessly, which many a mother does, but she lived only for her, something that not everybody does.
But since a couple of weeks, Mohini had been looking for reasons to avoid her ‘Dearie-Diary-nap’. Her mother could sense her discomfort. Mohini now longed for something else. Her presence in the room would be merely bodily while her mind rambled in a world unknown to her mother. It so happened, a couple of times that as soon as Mohini’s mother began to slumber, she slyly slipped out of the bed. And when after some time, her mother would set out to look for her, she would be found guffawing with her elder brother, Adnan.
Adnan was about fifteen-years old. He was skinny and had a face that spoke of unverified innocence. He was supposed to remain confined in his room for most hours of the day and remain engrossed in his books until he improved his grades. This newly enforced law made him abandon his comic books, video games, cricket and every other thing that had the potential to draw his attention off his books. As a matter of fact, this made him explore alternative methods of amusement. And he took to exploring his little sister more closely, bit by bit. He started letting her in his room, something that he previously didn’t. Mohini, overjoyed at the consent, began spending her afternoons in her brother’s company.
“I don’t feel sleepy, Mom. I want to play with Addu Dada.” Mohini insisted.
“Fine, go ahead.”
Her mother would usually coerce her to come to bed but today, she just gave in. She wanted to witness the interesting game that they played every afternoon. She wanted to feel the gravity that Mohini experienced and for which she forsake her nap.
Mohini was too young to understand any of this. She felt a sense or pride that her brother, unlike her friends’ brothers, spent time with her, played her and loved her, loved her way too much.
As she entered Adnan’s room that afternoon, he put his book aside and let out a warm welcoming note, “Aww… my cutie-pie….” He picked her up and made her sit on his lap. Mohini giggled.
He broke the ice by asking about her day at school. As her chattering began, he caressed her hair and tenderly pulled her cheeks. He kept smiling at her throughout. This made her feel that he was interested in listening to her. There was something else that drew his attention. He occasionally rubbed his nose against her, kissed her on her forehead, on her nose, her cheeks, her chin and then innocently yet subtly landed a peck on her lips. He tickled her playfully and in the process, the frills of her frock went up.
Mohini’s simple brain could not comprehend the complications of his mind. For her, it was brotherly love. For him, it was an amusement with an unexplored specimen.
While this went on, Mohini’s mother tiptoed upstairs. She had no idea what she was to see ahead but she believed it couldn’t be bad. She reached the door and peeped. She found her son smiling and making funny faces at her daughter. Mohini seemed to enjoy that and her mother smiled too. Contented at her children’s happiness, she was about to leave when she noticed Adnan’s hand sliding inside Mohini’s frock and then inside her step-in, fondling her butts and thighs in a deceitful manner.
Underneath the superficial giggling lay a dark and intense truth.
Mohini’s mother was taken aback. All this while, the apple of her eye was being abused by her own son. Several questions came to her mind. Since when has this been going on? What else did he do to Mohini? Was it her fault? Her heart sank deeper and deeper with every thought. And the questions sought no answer. The truth was, no answer could render her solace. She was deeply offended, hurt and outraged.
“Mohini…!” She said at the top of her voice. Adnan, stunned, drew his hands back. Mohini gazed in a naïve surprise.
“Go into the bedroom and sleep!” She ordered Mohini and kept staring at Adnan.
Adnan was petrified. He knew he had been caught. He brainstormed for explanations but deep down, he knew that no excuse will spare him the chastisement for his offense.
Mohini did as she was bid. She wondered what made her mother so furious; whether he broke a vase again or it was their neighbor’s daughter who complained against him. She tried to eavesdrop from the room downstairs but all she could hear was the faint voice of her mother. She dozed off in the attempt.
The atmosphere appeared calm when she woke up. Her mother was in the room, flipping the pages of Vogue absentmindedly and looking intently at Mohini’s face.
“Mohini?” she finally said.
“I want you to let Addu study when he comes back from school. He needs to score good marks, like you do. You can go out and play with your friends in the park though. Is that okay, Sweetie?”
Mohini was at ease now. She now knew what Addu had done. He must have messed up with his tests again, she guessed. And he deserved this.
Ah, the world of children!