"Ma, I'm going to Nisha's house," Arati announced, as she tumbled out of her room as usual, her sling bag in tow.
"Ok, did you hand over the cheque to Pa?" Mom shouted from the kitchen.
"Shit," Arati muttered under her breath. "I'll do it on the way, ma..."
She could hear her mother grumble something inaudibly from inside, but she was way past the living room to the corridor that connected to the garage.
She pushed through the door and flicked on the light of the garage. Her favorite hatchback of 3 years sat gleaming in the tiny bulblight. She patted the bonnet lovingly and was about to get in, when she stopped. Turning back slowly she discovered something. She looked at it, and then at hindsight went back into the house.
Her mother, oblivious to the world...turned and jumped when she saw her daughter standing in the kitchen doorway.
"Aru..please tell me when you come and stand like that," her mother said, a hand on her chest, breathing heavily. "You scared me. I thought you'd left."
"Ma, whose car is that?" Arati said, ignoring her mother's protest.
"Ma,come on...that one sitting beside mine."
"Oh, that. belongs to Nikhil's friend's. He's handed it over to your brother temporarily."
"The friend has gone to the Us for a few weeks, so he wants Nikhil to take care of it." she mumbled something else and continued her work.
Arati looked thoughtful.
"Why has Nikhil not taken it to work, then?"
"Arre I don't know. Ask him."
Arati turned back and headed to garage, dialing her brother's number.
"Nikhil, can I use your friend's car for today?"
"Aru, no, no no...don't touch that car - I can't give it to you..." he hadn't even completed the sentence. "thanks," Arati said and giggled.
She pulled the keys from the key-chain hanging by the garage door. All car keys hung from there.
She blew a kiss at her car with a short 'sorry baby" and got into the friend's car. It was a huge monstrosity she'd always wanted to drive ever since she'd learned driving a couple of years ago.
She revved the engine and let out a long whistle. Her mobile rang. It was her brother. She disconnected it and backed the car out.
A little past the first traffic circle, Arati turned right. That was when she noticed something was wrong.
(I know, I know....but to be continued)