She could hear them shouting her name. They were searching for her everywhere, even on the streets. She could hear her grandmother praying loudly and her father and mother arguing even louder. Should she step out and face the consequences or should she stay where she was? Squeezed in the minuscule space between the door and the bathroom wall, she stood with fear.
A long while later when she could hear no sound she peeped out from behind the door. At the same moment her sister stepped into the bathroom. They both yelled; one with fear and the other with shock.
“Why are you hiding here? We were searching for you the whole day,” screamed her sister.
“I broke my chain. Amma will be angry with me. Amma always scolds me if I break things,” She sobbed as she opened her fist to reveal pieces of a gold chain clutched in it.
“You were scared Amma will scold you? Do you know how scared we were that you were lost?” asked her sister incredulously through her tears.
On hearing their voices, her mother came running in and others gathered around bemused and relieved at the same time.
“Amma please don’t be angry with her. She won’t do it again” said her sister trying to shield her. All eyes turned towards her mother, and for once their mother was stunned into silence as she digested the fact that her daughter had been hiding from her anger. Something shifted deep within her.
“This chain is not even made of gold. You are safe. Thank God!” the mother said as she pulled her daughter into her arms and they hugged long and hard. A broken chain can be replaced, but a broken soul is incredibly difficult to repair, the mother realised as she vowed to watch herself.