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‘What will we do now?’ she asked as she sleep vanished from her eyelids.
Shekhar opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of Heineken and went to the balcony. The view was occupied by buildings and a beautiful garden. While gulping down the beer, he started reminiscing about his failures. He opened his desk to take out a beautiful picture of Roohi which was taken at the time of her birth. His hands started trembling as tears ran down his cheek. He began cursing God for his miserable condition.
At 7 in the evening, Shekhar was sleeping on the chair in the living room after drinking 6 pines. Tara entered the room after having a nap and found Shekhar dozing off with bottles lying on the floor and a pack of smoke besides him. Although she was furious, she remained calm and went inside the kitchen to prepare dinner.
Shekhar woke up and found the room dark. He looked towards the clock; it was 10 pm. He also found his table cleaned by Tara and with a heavy eye and foot he managed to stand on his feet. He went inside the room where he saw Tara and Roohi sleeping fast. For a moment he kept watching them but was disturbed by a lizard which went pass through his legs. He moved towards the kitchen to have his dinner, which was ready for him. After dinner, he again had tears but he restrained himself and pulled out a cigarette, smoked it and slept on the floor.
Early morning after having breakfast Shekhar and Tara got ready to head towards Roohi’s school. They didn’t talk throughout the journey. After reaching the school, they headed straight to the principal’s office, where he was waiting for them.
“Hello Mr & Mrs. Dutta, how are you?” asked the principal. “We are good” said Tara without really meaning it. The principal removed his spectacles and said “Look, let’s be frank and talk on the issue for which I called you for.” He took out printed page with the logo of the school as header. The principal signed the paper and kept it in front of Shekhar and Tara and said, “This is a notice issued by the school, which is a standard procedure followed by all the schools across, where a student is expelled from the school over nonpayment of fees for over three months.”
This made Shekhar tremble out of nervousness. Tara noticed it and said “Sir, we apologize over the delay in the payment but we are facing a crisis like situation and our financial position is not stable at the moment to even afford our needs…” The principal interrupted her, “We do care for all such situations and are ready to help but we need to go by the book and it has been over the months now.”
Shekhar, who was a mute spectator till now, said “Sir, please give us some time and we will pay the fees along with the fine.” Tara joined him and even folded her hands and nearly begged. The Principal looked towards both of them and his heart took over his mind after watching them in this state. He was about to say something when the phone rang and he got busy with talking. Tara looked at Shekhar and they both exchanged glances and sat with their hands folded and waited for the principal to end his call.
After about three minutes the principal hung up and said “Alright, I can offer you two more weeks, after which the school will follow its procedure (of expelling Roohi from the school) without any talks.” With a sigh of relief Tara thanked the principal while Shekhar remained silent and picked the notice which was on the table and they both were asked to leave.
The sun was shining to its fullest and the busy traffic was increasing the humidity. After walking out of the school premises with their daughter, Shekhar was about to light his cigarette. Tara snatched it from his mouth and threw it. Astonished by Tara’s act Shekhar shouted “What?” His loud voice even alerted a passerby. Tara in a furious tone said, “You are doing nothing. Just enjoying the smokes and drinks from my hard earned money and ruining our daughter’s life.”
Shekhar tried to hold her hand but changed his mind and murmured some abuses and added, “I am working so hard over my articles but you think I am enjoying my life! Yes I am unable to earn but I am trying my best to support our family.” Tara furiously responded, “You are so careless and you smoke in front of your little daughter who is being punished for no reason…” and she continued telling him about his failures and his financial position while Shekhar too was arguing with her.
Roohi got frightened and disturbed by her parents’ behavior and ran towards the bus stop when they were busy yelling at each other.
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