Vrushti - Guttating Away - Chapter 4
Vrushti - Guttating Away - Chapter 410 mins 379 10 mins 379
Vrushti woke up quite before the set alarm, "Good Morning, Vrushti, as always, you are ahead of schedule" said ECCo, "It is Friday, Second of July, 2190, the time is 0542 hours. It's going to be a partly cloudy day with 48 degrees as maximum and 39 degrees as minimum temperature, no precipitation is expected. Your flight, IX9626 to Mumbai, departing from KSKV Airport Bhuj is scheduled at 0840 hours. Since you are a minor traveller, a special request has been made for a preferential check-in. Your airport transfer, as booked by Naleen Thakkor is parked at Nalia Central Depot with an ETA of 0700 hours. Naleen is still presently asleep with his wake-up alarm set for 0615 hours, do you want to change it and wake him earlier?"
"No, ECCo, let Baba rest" said Vrushti casually within her head to the so-called 'Embedded Conscience Companion'. She almost always moved her lips which was not required. It was yet strange for her talking to this artificial conscience. She had got ECCo just embedded recently when she crossed 13 and was still getting used to it, it was at times like last evening when she interacted with her natural conscience she preferred to put ECCo to standby.
She flung aside her blanket and stepped down the queen-sized bed, swishing the curtains that encircled it suspended from the centre in the tall ceiling. The dark blue sky, as could be seen outside from between the balcony balustrades on her right, was turning to a lighter shade with the morning twilight while the gentle breeze swayed the curtains lazily. Naleen had spared no efforts to make her life no less than a princess and her room was almost a queen's chamber. As she stepped off the bed from the left side, she slipped in to her furry flip-flops and moved towards the bathroom. She was feeling a bit groggy this morning, was it because her anxiety hadn't let her sleep well or was it just her nerves, she couldn't really decide, she chose to go with both.
She faced the mirror and realized she apparently looked a lot older in just one night, this had to be quite metaphorical. In the upper right corner the time indicated 05:46 with ' : ' blinking every second. Below it an airplane icon with IX9626 and 0840 with "On Time" pulsating lazily, standing out in orange colour from the other light blue text. The weather icon indicated what she was already informed. Other than being nervous, she was excited to be traveling in an airplane for the very first time, even though this was just a one-hour flight, she was going to fly.
She filled her frosty pink glass with water, ECCo reminiscently blurted that she was not to use more than 100ml for dental cleansing. She worded out "Thanks ECCo for the reminder, I'll ensure not to use more than 100ml" and with that ECCo projected in her line of sight, a graph showing her consumption for the month, the graph sloped lower towards the right side, showing she had reduced her water consumption for the pearly whites. She removed the lower and upper teeth tray, they looked like moulds from which dentures for old people were made, squeezed some gel from the tube on both the trays and placed them casually on both the sets of her teeth. As the nano-bots in the gel set out to their work, out of the blue she was hit by this sinking feeling, she already missed Asok and Anahita, now she was going to miss Naleen too. Was this what childhood was supposed to be? Now that it was gone, did it even matter now? We'd all lost so many things, did it matter at all?
She again sheepishly caught herself daydreaming, was this becoming a habit? She had so much on her mind. Taking off the dental trays from her mouth, she looked up to see 05:59 change to 06:00, the digital six looked like a hook formed out of a hand. "Your breakfast of Aloo Paratha is defrosted and being heated for 30 seconds" said ECCo, "would you like plain milk or cold flavoured milk? Flavour choices are Rose, Saffron, Chocolate, Vanilla...". "Give me Rose flavoured milk" Vrushti interrupted ECCo, she never liked the taste of plain processed milk. "Your anxiety level seems high, I suggest Chocolate milk. Chocolate is considered to be a comfort food and will relax your nerves"
"Thanks ECCo, but I'd prefer having Rose milk, I'd rather have something I like to relax my so-called anxiety" sounding a little agitated, Vrushti didn't like to be told what to eat or drink by a computer.
"Sure, the Rose milk is in the second rack of 'Drinks' section and the Aloo Paratha is in the first rack of the 'Food' section. There are three more Parathas and 1250ml of milk available in the 'Vendor O'Food'. Do you want the nutritional info of your breakfast today?"
"No ECCo, thanks, don't scare me of food anymore" she said, rolling her eyes.
She stepped out of her bedroom in to the passage between the balustrades and the stairs, she could see the dimly lit living room below. On the other side of the passage where the stairs started was Naleen's room, he seemed to be still asleep. She started stepping down, being careful not creating the soft thump these carpeted wooden stairs made. Her Baba deserved the rest. Soft morning light was entering the hallway, she turned left towards the kitchen. Opening the door of a huge refrigerator like closet, she pulled out a plate with a steaming hot Aloo Paratha, the aroma invigorated her senses. She reached in another section of this cabinet and withdrew a glass of pink coloured rose milk. She seated herself on a stool around the dining table in the centre of the kitchen. Just then, the coffee maker whirred into action releasing a small cloud of steam. Startled she relaxed and felt happy, the coffee maker kicking in to action meant Naleen was awake, she could have her breakfast with him before she left.
Minutes later, Naleen was sitting in front of Vrushti, holding his "Vessyel" smart mug which proclaimed 'Coffee' while blowing up a legion of vapour. "Hmm, so beta are you ready for your big day?" asked Naleen taking a gulp. Vrushti always felt good when Naleen called her "Beta" a term meant for sons which could also be used for daughters, but "Beti" could not be used for sons.
"Hmm...hmm" she shook her head while chewing on her Paratha, washing it down with milk. She somehow never relished food as she never felt hungry really, but it was a routine so she ate nevertheless.
There was so much both wanted to say to each other, but it just didn't seem to come out.
Naleen kept asking casual questions like that of a dotting parent. "Have you packed your favourite pajamas? Are you carrying your supplements?"
While she kept replying in affirmative. This wasn't the first time she was going away from him, but this time the distances would be longer. Naleen just couldn't help think that the sand of time was seeping out from between his fingers. The harder he clenched, the faster it slipped. He wanted to go to Mumbai and ensure her comfort, but she had insisted on going on her own. This was one prime characteristic which was transmitted genetically to her from Asok.
This brought a smirk on Naleen's face, Vrushti immediately noticed and asked "What's making you smile, baba?"
"Nothing", he shrugged.
"Aww, c'mon baba, you're not smiling for nothing, you're better than that", said she.
"Okay, I was smiling considering the fact that now I can have the house to myself and use the master bedroom you usurped." said Naleen jokingly.
"Yeah, right!" she crumpled a piece of tissue paper and threw it at him mockingly. "That is the princess chamber, you can't have it, besides once I'm gone you'll be like a ghost in this castle, enjoy your haunts", she completed.
"The house will definitely haunt me, beta". Naleen said as his smile thinned. "I've barely spent time with you, that I don't even very well know how to miss you, but miss you nonetheless. Please take care and be a good girl, make your parents proud."
"Aww baba, you are my parents, in fact you've always been more than that for me, I will make YOU proud, I too have always wished if I could've spent more time, but the time I've had with you is something I always cherish" as she tilted her head, her eyes turned glassy and she reached out to hold her Baba's hand.
Naleen was hit with the fact that this little girl had just grown up so much, she almost spoke like a woman.
Naleen's cloud of thought was broken with the honking from outside. It was Vrushti's ride; early as usual. Vrushti looking surprised said "These cabbies always seem to be in hurry, moments back it was in Nalia car-shed and here it is. This guy is almost half an hour early". Naleen could see that she was mumbling something under her breath, he found it cute the way she was adapting to ECCo.
"Okay, I just sent a message to the cabbie, that I'll be on time" said Vrushti.
Moments later, Vrushti was sitting beside Naleen in the rear seat of the cab. Naleen had painstakingly convinced Vrushti to at least see her off at the aerodrome for which she had adoringly agreed. These were some moments which would probably be some of the most valued times between them. They were somewhere midway, that's Naleen spoke hesitantly, since he was aware the cab driver, as snoopy as they always were would overhear their conversation, "Vrushti, beta, I've always told you how special you are, and surely you've taken that as a father's blind affection speaking. But there is a lot more to it than meets the eye."
"I know Baba", said Vrushti
"No there is something else", as Naleen looked towards the cab driver who now seemed to show disinterest in the father-daughter babble, but he knew Vrushti, who was almost a beloved celebrity in these parts of the world, so his eyes were on the road while his ears keenly hooked to the back seat.
"Before Asok handed you over to me, he shared a secret...a secret concerning you". He had a very worried look on his face clearly indicating to Vrushti that this was not one of those pranks they played on each other. "I think time will let you discover it on your own."
"Tell me what it is, Baba. I am old enough to handle myself" she opined.
"I have no doubts about that" said Naleen. "But I guess it's not the right time and place to let you know, I should have told you earlier in a better place."
"Baba, since you cannot confide in me about a secret about myself, why did you even tell me this much?" The annoyance on Vrushti's face was quite clear now.
ECCo disrupted this conversation like a fire cracker going off in the middle of the night, "Message from Naleen, do you want to read it now?"
"No" shouted out Vrushti apparently livid, as the car hovered into the neatly marked parking slot on the airport. She opened the door and got out while the driver routinely got off and pulled out a bag from the trunk. This was one benefit of not using an auto-driven car, but she didn't care about it at this moment. Vrushti promptly picked up her bag and started dashing towards the entrance. This is not how she had pictured her departure, and that thought itself immediately cooled her down. She turned around to see Naleen rushing behind her.
"It's okay Baba, if you can't tell me about it right now, I am sure you have a rational reason for it, if you want time to show it to me, so be it. Sorry I just got wild, I think the anxiety got the better part of me" apologized Vrushti.
Naleen just stood there stunned managing a croak, "No, there's nothing I would like to hide from you, but this was Asok's insistence that I should let you discover it yourself, but I couldn't help but warn you that be careful who you will confide with the secret of yours--"
"--In today's world where there's complete darkness you may be a ray of light and I do not want the ray of light to be exploited for wrong purposes. Here in Kutch you are a darling of the people, once you're out there, your lovely smile won't just be enough to get you out of trouble, your innocence will make you gullible to the miscreants in the world that is out there. If only these words of mine will make you reconsider going, I will be glad, but staunch as you are I know these mere words won't work"
Vrushti jumped up and gave him a warm hug, and whispered "I'll be fine, I know you're always there for me, I look forward to the day of revelation what my father wanted me to know, just don't stress over it, Baba" as she winked and turned to resume her walk towards the gate.
(Continue to Chapter 5 - Mayanagari!?!)