This is the toughest part of every morning, thought Arushi. Everything she gulped down kept rising up her throat. She tried to concentrate on other things.
“The papers are full of the Debt Crisis. It’s going to be difficult, finding a job in this market,” Papa was saying.
“But then one needs to try,” said Mamma matter-of-factly.
“Hmm,” grunted Pappa disappearing into the papers.
“The Greek Tragedy,” Arushi read aloud. The milk slowly rose up her food pipe and tragedy almost struck. Mom lashed out, “Enough of trying to throw up, just drink it.”
Arushi gulped some of the milk and asked, “ Pappa, what is a Greek Tragedy?”
“You will not understand,” he responded impatiently.
“I understand everything,” said Arushi trying to sound intelligent.
Pappa said looking amused, “And, what do you understand about the Greek Tragedy?”
“That, it makes you angry,” giggled Arushi.
“Pappa, aren’t you going to office?” asked Adi, Arushi’s teenaged brother.
“No, not today,” said Pappa pushing his reading glasses up on his forehead.
“But you did not go yesterday either,” said Adi suspiciously and glanced at Arushi meaningfully.
“Did you lose your job, Pappa?” asked Arushi. Pappa’s mouth fell open and his reading glasses landed back onto his nose. His expression spoke volumes.
“Is it because of the –the- C-R-I-S-I-S?” asked Arushi.
Mamma interrupted impatiently, “Look, now we have missed the bus.”
The children landed in school after the last bell. Arushi went up to her Grade III classroom with her heart thumping wildly. Ms. Thelma did not like latecomers. Arushi reached the classroom and Ms. Thelma pounced with the dreaded question. “Why are we late today, Arushi?” she asked in her shrill voice.
Arushi’s heart skipped a beat, as she blurted out, “I missed the bus.”
“So now you have to miss the first period,” announced Ms. Thelma . Someone in the last row laughed.
Arushi could feel her ears turning hot with embarrassment and she burst into tears. “It wasn’t my fault, Miss,” she sobbed, “It was because of the T-R-A-G-E-D-Y “ she said trying hard to recall what she had read.
Ms. Thelma’s eyebrows shot up and disappeared into her hairline, “Tragedy? What tragedy??!”
Arushi sobbed louder, “The Death Crisis…. and now Pappa won’t go to work anymore.”
Ms. Thelma rushed up to her all flustered, “Hush my child. Don’t cry. We will see what we can do,” she said as she gently led Arushi to Ms. Gracy, the nurse.
She then rushed up to the Principal. “Ms. Ooman, I think we have an emergency,” she said almost out of breath. “Arushi Menon, from my class, has come to school crying. She says there has been some tragedy at home involving her Dad. “
“Ms. Thelma, if the parents have sent the child to school, I do not think we must worry our heads…. unless ……………” Ms. Ooman paused as she took off her glasses and looked up at the visibly shaken Ms. Thelma.
“Let me talk to the child,” she said.
Arushi was ushered into the Principal’s cabin.
“What’s the matter , my child?” asked Ms. Ooman kindly.
“I missed my school bus, Ma’am and was late to school. But it wasn’t my f-f–fault……..” said Arushi wailing loudly by now.
“I am telling you, Ms. Ooman, there is some problem back home bothering the child,” remarked Ms. Thelma shaking her head knowingly.
“Do you want to go home, dear?” Ms. Ooman asked Arushi.
Anything that could keep her from standing out of the classroom looked like a great option. Arushi nodded her head and burst into fresh sobs.
So Arushi was made to sit with Ms. Gracy, waiting to be picked up. By the time a frantic Mr. Menon arrived on the scene, Arushi was busy sucking on a sweet offered by Ms. Gracy, all her worries forgotten.
He rushed up to Arushi and asked anxiously, “What happened Aru. I was told that you were crying about some tragedy and death at home.”
“I was punished because I was late for school and it wasn’t even my fault. It was because you lost your job due to the Death Crisis,” explained Arushi, reproachfully. Pappa’s mouth opened into a big ‘O’ as she continued brightly, “You know, Pappa, I think the Greek Tragedy and the Death Crisis aren’t so bad.”
“H-uh??” said Pappa, stunned.
Arushi looked at him and exclaimed gleefully. “Look, you and I can be at home and have loads of fun together!”