I woke up to the lovely chant of the Suprabhatham, in the voice of the everygreen M.S.Subbalakshmi, as I wondered where I was. Surprisingly, I slept really well and peacefully after a long time, I may add.
I was fully alert now. Knew exactly where I was. As I felt that familiar feeling of fear, I noticed that fresh clothes, a towel and new toiletaries have been laid out for me. I smiled at Meghana's thoughtfulness.
Breakfast was lovely, both food and the company. Tara left for her room after breakfast followed by that same whirlwind.
"Does she always stay in her room and keep to herself?" I asked.
"No no, she is working on her speech for Monday." said Meghana as she begun to clear out the table. I got up to help.
As I helped her with the dishes, I asked, "So what happened when you brought Tigger home?"
"Chaos" laughed Meghana.
Aakaash laughed at the thought too. He said, "Oh yes, I remember vividly those first few days, All we hear was screaming, barking, screaming, whining, crying, barking in different order. Tara was petified of the soft moving object that was as curious about her as she was about it. Then all calmed down slowly. She got used to having him around. She loved it when he tried to cuddle up next to her. One fine day we found them sound asleep next to each other. Tara had her hand protectively over him. It was a sight we could never forget."
"They became inseperable, except when she had to attend school. He became quite a menace when she was not around. So we called in a trainer."
"Why the name "Tigger"?" I asked.
"This was one bouncy dog..you should have seen him. All he did was jump up and down on everything he could climb on. It was really funny, actually..hence the name." said Aakaash.
As we moved to the hall, I asked "You have quite a collection of books in your living room. I see an amazing variety of subjects too. How does Tara...?" I let the question trail, not knowing how to continue.
Meghna came to my rescue,"We read out to her as a kid. As she begun regular school, she learnt braille. We got her a braille typewriter. And as years passed more and more audio book were available. It started out as CD's and now we can download books through several sources online. Tara loves books. She would keep asking us to read story books over and over."
She paused and thought for a minute...Interrupting her thoughts, I asked,"may I go up to her room?"
"Ofcourse you may...the first door on the right, upstairs." said Meghana.
"upstairs?" I asked.
"She thinks we fuss over her too much when she had her room downstairs. She believes that Meghna will not be able to climb the stairs too many times. She underestimates the power of a concerned mother." Aakaash says, grinning. Meghana gives him a friendly jab in the rib.
I smile and walk upstairs.
I reach the door and knock. "Come in" Says Tara.
As I step in she says, "Hi kavya, welcome to my room" and smiles.
"How did you know it was me?" I ask.
"Well, My mom never knocks, my dad stomps up the stairs...can't miss that, and this fellow never leaves me, so that leaves you." says Tara.
I smile and look around. Unlike any 20 year old's room, there are no pictures of movie stars, rock stars or sachin tendulkar. surprisingly well lit, the room is simple. A bed at the far end of the room, A computer on a desk that is lined against the wall, next to which is a typewriter. There are several shelves on walls that are filled with Cd's. I step a little closer to see what CD's they are, wary of black beady eyes watching my every move. There was something different in the way they were labelled. As I took a closer look..I realized they were labelled in Braille!!! wow!
"so, what do you like to read" asked Tara.
I turned around surprised. I was going to ask the questions. I nervously sat on the corner of the bed. "A bit of this and that. Though getting time is tough, I try, as I travel..." I said.
"What?" I asked.
"You dont have to be nervous. He won't do anything to you. He is a really sweet dog. Why are you terrified of him?" Tara said.
"Is it that obvious? its a complicated culmination of catastrophic events created by one creepy canine" I said.
"HA HA HA..."Tara burst out laughing. "To me he is that particularly precious pet and person on this planet, who is precious, playful and passionate. HA HA HA"
"Perfect" I sighed. And we both laughed.
"On a more serious note" Tara said, "He loves me unconditionally. I don't know what I would do without him. I am really thankful my parents brought him into my life." As if he knew she was talking about him, he walked over and put his head on her knee. I cringed.
"Ok..ok..let's not talk about that. Let me tell you about what I love. Even before I could understand anything, my parents read out books to me. I grew up on stories and the life my parents gave the stories through their voices. To me books are like a source of not only information but my personal link to the entire universe. I love to listen to audio books, any that I can lay my virtual hands on. I love mystery, medical thrillers, courtroom novels, horror, autobiographies, self help books and books on general knowledge too. I love quizzing. Was on the school and college quiz team." She beamed. "Somehow i was never drawn to romantic stuff. My best friend loves reading such stuff and always tries to dump such books on me." She says affectionately.
As always, time passed easily. It was almost lunch time. The clock struck one. Tara said,
"one ...two...three...and viola"...
I heard Meghna's voice from below. TARA...KAVYA...come down for lunch. Tara grinned and said, "Better get down immediately. She is tougher to handle than him."
We walked down together laughing, as the whirlwind brushed past my leg. I held my breath, put one hand on Tara's shoulder and as I walked down I felt so much a part of the family.
This is the best assignment I ever had.
To be continued...