Her dad's announcement was met with a bewildered silence, followed by her mother exclaiming "What?"
Biren looked at Suma and shook his head, he said, "I said Aniya is dead. She died in the accident that happened while she was driving my car. Suma, I know your mother has spoken to you, but can we put off this discussion for a while?"
Suma's face took on a stubborn look, but as she looked at Biren's grief-stricken face, her face softened and she said, "Okay! I will wait for a few days while you sort out your feelings. But this cannot go on for long, we have to talk soon." She said.
After only a couple of days, Kiya wished that her parents would talk it out. Things were so tense; her mother was always angry and upset, her father seemed to be brooding all the time. Kiya found herself thinking many times that her "gift" was indeed a curse. But what she did not know was, that things were going to get worse.
It all happened 6 days after Aniya's death. It was a Friday evening and Kiya had been trying to cook something in the kitchen (both her parents were too occupied with their own problems to organize any food), when she managed to spill some oil on her top. She rushed to the bathroom to take off the shirt and wash it. Even as she removed the shirt, she realized that the crystal too was covered in oil. As washing the crystal properly while wearing it seemed a really tough task, Kiya removed it to run it under warm water.
As she rinsed the oil from the crystal, she could hear her mother calling out, "Kiya, where are you? You have left the stove on and whatever you were cooking seems to be burning. I am on the phone, can you turn it off?"
Kiya placed the crystal on the table next to her bed, in the box where she kept the earrings and bracelet and ran down to the kitchen. Her dish had gotten scorched at the bottom, but still seemed edible. As she struggled to salvage it, she forgot all about the crystal. That night the whole family had to eat the slightly burnt food that Kiya had cooked. Tired from a day spent with her parents who seemed to be living on different planets, Kiya decided an early night was what she needed.
It was not even 9.00 as she laid down to sleep. Utter exhaustion and her depression over the current situation, made Kiya fall into a disturbed sleep. The next morning when she woke up early, she decided to go through her normal routine of meditation with the crystal before she tackled the day. Even as reached for it, she remembered that she had forgotten to wear the crystal last night. Scrambling from her meditation position, she looked for it at her bedside table.
Imagine her panic, when she could not find it! Kiya was flabbergasted to find the crystal missing. She frantically searched on the floor near the table and even looked under the bed, hoping it had fallen down and rolled underneath. She retraced the activities of the earlier evening and even looked for it in the bathroom and the kitchen, but it was nowhere to be found.
Feeling utter panic welling up, Kiya was just reaching for the phone to call her grandmother, when her mother called out to her, "Kiya! Are you awake? Did you have breakfast? Who are you calling, this early in the morning?"
Kiya looked up at her mother and said, "No mom, I am not hungry, I will eat later. I am just calling my friend Sucheta. I want to ask her some doubt about my homework." She lied.
Her mother said, "Oh! That, why are you calling your friend when you know she has gone away for the weekend. By the way, she was here to meet you yesterday after you went up to your room. She said she wanted to borrow something from you, so I sent her up."
"What? You sent her to my room? You knew I was asleep!" Said Kiya.
After a pause, she asked, "By the way mom, what did she want to borrow?"
"She said she is attending some function and she wanted some jewelry to match her red dress. She came down from your room and she told me had borrowed your red crystal set. You know the one you are so fond of? She said she took it from the box by your bedside table and she would return it by Sunday night."
"Oh! Mom, how could you let her borrow that?" Said Kiya starting to feel scared and worried. She had been careless and she did not know what would happen next. There was no way she could tell her mother about what the crystal meant to her; for one she would never understand and it would only make her angrier.
Even as she sat down to ponder what to do next, her father hurried in and said, "Kiya, I am going out to do some important work and I want you to come with me." Saying that he pulled at her arm and started dragging her to the door. Kiya had no choice but to follow him.
As they got into a taxi, Kiya looked at her father and said, "Dad, where are we going?"
Her father looked really sad as he said, "We are going to Aniya's house. There are so many things to be done and I would feel better if a woman were with me. I would have asked your mother to come with me but you know how things are right now, so I thought I will take you along. You are a mature young lady, you will be able to help me."
Kiya knew that entering Aniya's house would be a tough task for her and that too without the crystal to keep her centered. But she did not know how to avoid it. She stepped into the flat, taking care not to touch anything, but even then she was beset with dark feelings as she stepped inside.
These only intensified when she entered Aniya's bedroom; it was like she was trapped in a dark nightmare. She could see Aniya crying and hugging her dad's photo. Then she could see Aniya swearing to get him no matter what. What she saw next made Kiya get chills down her back. Aniya had gone to a necromancer to cast a spell on her dad! The dark scenes that followed this revelation sent Kiya reeling into a swoon. She tried in vain to find the crystal that would help her center her thoughts and control herself. In her panic Kiya had forgotten that she no longer had the crystal!
Kiya's father watched in total confusion as Kiya paled to a deathly white color. He could see her clutching at her heart and then falling in a dead faint at his feet. For a minute he stood there feeling swamped by panic, then he rushed into action. He checked Kiya's pulse and then tried to revive her with water. When his efforts failed, he called for an ambulance on his phone. Hoping to hasten the process of getting her medical care, he picked her in his arms and walked to the door. As he walked to the door he could see a little color returning to Kiya's cheeks.
He could swear she seemed to be getting better. But he still wanted to get her checked out. The ambulance arrived soon and Kiya was taken to the hospital. On the ride to the hospital, Biren called Suma to inform her of what had transpired. She too rushed to the hospital.
In the meanwhile they had arrived at the hospital and Kiya had started to recover slowly even as they waited for the doctor to arrive. Biren could see that she was trying to say something. When the doctor examined her and had given her an injection, Kiya gained total consciousness. She stared around looking bewildered to see her parents looking down at her from either side of the bed.
She looked at them turn by turn and simply said, "Grandma, I want to talk to grandma". Her mother looked at her with concern and was about to say something when her father interrupted, "Do you want to talk to your grandmother?" Kiya nodded with tears in her eyes, she really had to talk to her grandmother. She was the only one who could understand.
Her father handed over his cell phone to Kiya saying, "Here, speak to her I have just dialed her number".
Kiya took the phone with shaky hands and said, "Hello, grandma". She could not speak further, she was choking with tear of terror and frustration.
"Oh! My God, my child, I am so glad you called. I have been having troubled thoughts about you." Said her grandmother.
"Oh! Grandma, my friend borrowed my crystal set, the whole set," wailed Kiya, tears threatening to choke her once more. Her parents exchanged bewildered glances as they heard this. They were stunned that Kiya could be talking about jewelry on such an occasion!
Her grandmother sighed on the other side. She said, "Oh my child do not worry, I will be there as soon as I can. In the meanwhile, do not leave your home. Hand over the phone to your parents. I will tell them to take you home directly and keep you there."
She hung up after she had spoken to Kiya's father. Biren turned his worried eyes to Kiya and thought how could he have ever thought of leaving his family, especially his daughter. He had been so stupid; now he was determined to protect his daughter no matter what.
He said, "I will go talk to the doctor about letting you go home. Suma you stay here and take care of her," as he walked away to find the doctor.
Kiya laid there thinking about the situation she was in. She dare not talk to her mother, but even so she wished her mother would hug her and make her feel better. It was almost as if Suma could read her mind. She reached across the bed and hugged Kiya.
"I am so sorry things have been so tough for you recently. Whatever problems your father and I may have, please remember that both of us love you," said Suma with tears in her eyes.
What next? The plot seems to be thickening. Will Kiya recover and help her parents?
To be continued...