It was an unusually cold evening when Shonali was sitting cocooned in her Grandfather’s giant chair and contemplating the impossible decision she had to make. She was covered from head to toe with her favorite crocheted woolen quilt Even though she was overdressed with warm clothes, woolen beanie and a muffler; she was sitting in the balcony of her bungalow and could feel the bone chilling winds from time to time. She loved the winters of Patna.

Every December she would come home to Patna and stay with her parents at least for a couple of weeks or so. No matter which part of the world she was in, she would return home in December like clockwork.  For her retired parents, this was the best time of the year, as they could dote on their only daughter and feed her with all her favorite foods. Shonali was an author and a screenplay writer for Bollywood who would travel at lengths to different places for her latest work but December was always the homecoming time.

“Shona come inside please”, mom said. She was a little miffed with Shona, (as she was called at home), because she had already caught cold and had fever and yet was sitting in the balcony. “I will tell your Father that you have a death wish”, she yelled, “Come inside NOW”.

Shonali sighed heavily and collected her quilt and waddled inside. She positioned herself in the corner sofa and cocooned herself again. Mum scurried back with a big mug of Kadha for her bad throat and cough.

She now sat sipping on the pungent drink and mulling over her choices. Her inner turmoil was killing her but she definitely could not discuss it with her mom as she would literally kill her. Dad was a lost cause too, because he would look at Shonali from over his rimless glasses, and will ask her “What do YOU want to do about it”. He has done this always…whether it was what stream of studies she needs to take after her 10th or whether to cut her hair really short or even whether she should break her engagement to Ravi because he was cheating on her. Dad never took a decision for her, but encouraged her to ‘follow her heart’… So NO! Dad would not be of any help this time also.

Shonali waived her gloved hand in the air dismissing her impending gloom and decided to postpone her decision making for after dinner and concentrated on the graphic novel she was re-reading at that point.

She loved reading Batman comics but today her mind was somewhere else. She was not enjoying the Batman but she was constantly reminded of the lusciousness she was trying to avoid. “Maaaaaa… I am hungry… when will the dinner be ready”? Shonali groaned just like her stomach did.

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After dinner Mom and Dad went for their nightly walk and Shonali was forbidden to go out because of her cold and fever, so she sat in front of the TV and started channel surfing. She knew her parents will take at least an hour to complete their walk. Shonali knew this was the time, it is now or never. She had to do it before they came back or else they will never allow it. Mom will be pissed and she may start with her silent treatment and Dad… he will be so disappointed in her! But she had to do it… no other way!

Shonali slowly got up from the couch and headed towards the kitchen. She opened the cutlery drawer and pulled out a spoon. She then slowly stepped towards the fridge and opened it. Yes!!!!! There in the freezer was sitting her favorite chocolate chip ice cream that her Dad got for her but Mom kept it away saying she had cold. She took 2 large scoops of it in a bowl and dipped her big spoon in it and took a satisfactory gulp of the ice cream dollop.

“Aaah… it is heaven”, Shonali said as she was attacked by a bout of cough…

 

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