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2 mins 224 2 mins 224

Leena was staring from the window into the dark night. Her mother had not yet returned from office. It was already 8.30.

She was worried.

Leena’s mother, Harini, was a single parent. Her father had passed away when she was just one year old. All these nine years, her mother had brought her up while working for a living. She was an independent woman and did not want to ask anyone for help, even her own parents. The first five years, she had left her daughter in the care of a nearby crèche while she went to office. After that, since Leena was having full day school, she would spend the hour before her mother came home, playing in the building compound, and Harini would rush back from office. It helped that she was working in nationalized bank and her time of work was fixed.

She did not have to wait after office hours. Though she had been offered a promotion as an Officer, she did not accept as it would come with additional responsibility. It could entail transfers and duty after office hours and her daughter would be alone at home. Since the past six months, after Leena celebrated her thirteenth birthday, Harini felt that Leena was old enough to open the door of her house and finish her studies by the time she returned so that they got some time together for other activities. Her concern for her daughter ensured that she would return back home as fast as she could. But this was the first time that Leena was waiting for her mother for so long.

 ‘Mom is never so late,’ she panicked. ‘Why there is no phone call also?’

As if on cue, the phone rang.

“Hello,” said Leena.

“Hi darling,” it was her Mom alright. She was relieved.

“What’s the matter, Mom? Why are you so late?” The questions tumbled out in a hurry.

“Wait Leena darling, nothing’s the matter with me,” came her mother’s reply. “Don’t worry, I am perfectly fine. But you know Kavita aunty, my colleague. She suddenly fell sick and had to be hospitalized. I am just returning home in a few minutes.”

Leena knew and liked Kavita aunty. She was also a single parent and Mom’s closest friend. Her son, Mahesh, was just nine.

“Is Aunty okay, Mom?” asked Leena.

“She is now stable. I had to wait as Mahesh was scared and weeping,” replied Harini. “I was actually thinking of bringing him home, but just now Aunty’s cousin brother arrived and has taken over.”

“Okay Mom,” said Leena relieved and waited again at the window looking out for the familiar figure of her mother entering the building.

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