Sushma’s husband caught hold of Meera when she was trying to escape. Meera could not fight him. He twisted both her hands on to her back and tied them with a rope. Sushma and her husband managed to tie Meera to a chair nearby and taped her mouth so that she won’t be able to scream. They locked the room. The room became pitch dark and Meera couldn’t see anything.

Meera was tired physically and mentally. She ran for miles to escape her sister-in-law, she had to leave her little one at the orphanage so that she could get some food and shelter, and now she is locked in the dark and dingy room as a hostage. She had no idea how she might be able to escape from there.

She couldn’t help but wonder how Sia might be doing. She didn’t know if Sia had food because Sia loved to be fed. Morsel after morsel Sia used to make Meera run behind her. It was kind of fun for Sia… All through the day she would ask when her father would come. No matter how hard it was for Meera to work and manage Sia both at the same time, a glance at Sia’s cutest smile used to make Meera rejoice.

When it was about time for bed, Sia used to throw tantrums at her mom. “Mamma, just one more story. Mamma, I am feeling hungry. Mamma, can I play some more?“, so many ideas to escape from sleep. Meera started to scream and cry loudly unable to bear the pain of parting from her lovely child. She cursed herself to have been helpless. Orphanage is for kids who don’t have parents and my darling is placed there when I am alive. What kind of a mother am I? The poor child is so unlucky to have been born to me. If something happens to me, what would happen to Sia???  

At the orphanage, Sia sat in a corner wiping tears with her tiny hands. The place was new and the people there were strangers to her. It felt a little scary to be there without her mother. She wanted to ask for her mother, but then remembered what Meera had told her. “It is a hide and seek game. If I lose, I may not get the gift Mumma has promised“, she told herself.  It has just been one day now, and she had to stay there for 3 more months. The little soul did not understand what 3 months meant.

A cute little boy Aarav approached Sia and offered his toy. Sia was hesitant at first but later on she gelled well with the boy. Eventually she started playing with other kids too. The caretakers were relieved to see Sia getting along with other kids. Aarav and Sia became good friends. They used to talk a lot, play together, eat at the same table. It was as if they had been friends forever. 

A couple of weeks passed by and it was around Christmas time. The city was getting geared up for Christmas and so was the orphanage. The kids at orphanage were enthusiastically waiting for Christmas, for Santa to arrive and bring them gifts. The employees at orphanage contributed a portion of their salary for buying gifts for the children. The caregivers decorated the orphanage with teeny weeny stars, snowflakes and decorative items made of paper.  

Meanwhile, Sushma and her husband had been starving Meera to get her consensus for the evil deed they had planned. Meera was stubborn not to give-up. Sushma approached Meera and said , “Look, I know it has been hard on you. As a fellow woman I feel sorry for you. My husband won’t leave you. Why do you argue with him? If you agree to pay me some money I would let you loose. My husband is out of town today and this is the best time“. Meera pondered for a while if this would be a good idea to come to terms with Sushma? Did she have a choice? This is the only way I can get out of  here and see Sia. Meera agreed to the proposal. 

Sushma untied Meera, gave her an extra pair of clothes to freshen-up and change into. Meera took a shower and looked at herself in the mirror. She looked so pale, almost half dead. Meera looked out of the window. ‘It may be past midnight’, she thought. Sushma hurriedly entered Meera’s room, grabbed her hand as a gesture to walk along with her. Meera followed her without speaking a word.

By the time Sushma and Meera went downstairs, a car was waiting for them…