It was the last day of school and the session would break for summer holidays. Tina sighed, thinking of the two months ahead. While all her friends will be going home, she’d be staying back at the hostel with the teachers and few other students.
Her father was in the navy and wouldn’t be home for a few months. He was the only family she had, so her vacations were all spent at the boarding school.
Soon after breakfast, the buses and cars started arriving at the school’s parking lot. Children were running around, packing and saying their goodbyes. Tina strolled towards the garden and went to sit by the swimming pool. Lost in her own thoughts, she suddenly remembered that she had to give her best friend Sara, a letter to post. A letter to her father for when he came back home.
She got up quickly and ran back towards the school building. The corridors were half-empty, most of the students had left. “I hope Sara hasn’t left yet, oh no!” She ran down the corridors thankful that she didn’t have to follow any rules today, and climbed the stairs two at a time. As she reached her room which she shared with Sara and two other girls, she gasped for breath before she pushed the door open.
“Sara!” she called out, expecting her friend to be there, waiting for her.
The room was empty.
“Oh, no!” Tina cried and raced towards her cupboard to take out the envelope. She yanked the door open and was shocked to see it was half empty. Except for her uniforms, books and other school requirements, all her personal belongings were missing!
She looked at her study table and it was empty. The holiday homework was missing too!! Tina ran outside and looked on both sides of the corridor. Not a soul in sight.
While she was still thinking what to do, Tina saw Ekta climbing the stairs. “Ekta, listen..,” she cried out.
“No, you listen! What have you done this time? Principal ma’am wants to talk to you this very minute! I’d been looking for you since so long, I am getting late. My parents are waiting, we have a train to catch!”
“But, Ekta! All my things…”
“Tina, please! Just go, or else I will get into trouble!” Ekta said and rushed into their room, shutting the door behind her.
Tina stood there stupified, not knowing what to do. She decided to go to the Principal and see why she wanted to see her. “I will also tell her about my missing things,” Tina decided.
With her heart beating fast, Tina raced down the stairs and through the corridor. Tears started to flow down her face as she thought of her dear father. He worked very hard to provide for her and now he will have to buy her everything again! By the time she reached the Principal’s office, she was whimpering – scared and sorry. She should have locked her cupboard. “Oh, why didn’t I? All of 15, and still not responsible. Papa would be so disappointed. He trusts me so much, and look how irresponsible I am!”
Lost in thought, she reached the Principal’s office and knocked once.
“Come in!” she heard Mrs Dewan’s voice from inside.
Wiping her tears, Tina opened the door and stopped short. Someone was sitting in front of Mrs Dewan. Tina apologised and closed the door, scolding herself for hearing the command wrong. Mrs Dewan must have asked her to wait.
Suddenly the door opened and Mrs Dewan was there. Already flustered, Tina’s face paled in anticipation of the scolding she’ll get now.
But, the older woman smiled. “Come inside, Tina,” she held out her hand towards the young girl waiting for her to hold it.
Even more confused, Tina held her hand and they walked inside the Principal’s office.
Mrs Dewan’s guest got up and adjusting his jacket, turned around with a smile.
“PAPA!” Tina screamed! “Papa! You! Here! But you were in the ship!”
Her father smiled and pulled her for a hug. “I was. But now I am back. I have got a new job and won’t be travelling any more. Your bags are packed, we are going home.”
Tina freed herself from him, her eyes as large as saucers, still not believing all that she heard. She had not been home in five years, she’d almost forgotten how home looked!
She looked around the room and saw Mrs Dewan smiling at her. Next to her were Sara and Ekta, grinning from ear to ear. They came to hug her. “Nobody stole your things, silly! We packed them and brought them here!”
Tina hugged her father again and started crying.
She was going home.