“Piyu, please get the door,” shouted Mummy.
Little Priyanka jumped off the couch. She somehow balanced the tub of strawberry ice-cream and ran to the door. “Hi Suchi Mausi,” she mumbled, pushing a large dollop into her mouth.
“Piyu, why are you eating ice-cream in this cold weather?”
Priyanka opened her mouth and giggled. There was a glaring black hole, smack in the middle of the top row of her teeth.
“Oh, you lost a tooth.”
Priyanka nodded proudly and hopped back on the couch. “I didn’t even cry. And I’m going to get a new doll now.”
“In here Suchi,” came a voice from the kitchen, followed by loud sizzling sounds.
Suchi Mausi walked in and leaned against the refrigerator. “Piyu’s getting a new doll for losing a tooth?”
Mummy wiped her forehead with her dupatta and flipped the sausages on the pan. “You remember how much she cried the last time her tooth fell out?” she sighed. “So Daddy told her that the tooth fairy gives dolls to children who don’t cry.”
Just then, Daddy dashed inside. “Shobha…eh, hello Suchi. Some urgent work’s come up. But I’ll be back soon.” And he was gone.
“But…the sausages?” wailed Mummy. She glanced at her sister. “Would you like some?”
“Mummy,” shouted Priyanka. “Where’s the silver wrapping paper and red ribbon?”
“Whose birthday is it?” asked Suchi Mausi, biting into a sausage. “Ummm…this is delicious.”
Mummy shook her head. “Piyu’s going to gift wrap the tooth for the fairy. And write a thank you note as well.”
Suchi Mausi burst out laughing, but Mummy shushed her.
“Suchi Mausi, come see my tooth na,” said Priyanka, dragging her to the bathroom.
But horror of horrors, there was no tooth next to the sink where she had left it. Priyanka immediately pulled everything apart. But still no tooth. The next moment, a loud howl escaped her mouth.
“What happened?” cried Mummy, rushing to the bathroom.
Priyanka pointed to the bare granite slab and let out another howl.
“Okay, let’s all be calm.” But Mummy already had a sinking feeling in her stomach. “Piyu, think hard. Are you sure you kept it here?”
Priyanka nodded and sniffed.
“Perhaps the bai kept it aside,” suggested Suchi Mausi.
“Yes, of course,” cried Mummy. The bai was swabbing the floor outside. “Eh…Leela bai, have you seen Piyu’s tooth? It was kept right here.”
But Leela bai threw her hands up instantly. “No re baba. I haven’t even cleaned the bathroom yet.”
“Mischief,” hollered Priyanka.
Mischief, her tiny beagle, who had been busy rolling in dirty socks, immediately scampered inside.
“Now, Mischief,” cried Priyanka, picking him up. “Have you seen my tooth?”
Mischief licked her tears and wagged his tail.
Priyanka’s eyes lit up. “I think he knows something,” she said, putting him down
But Mischief simply sniffed her right foot.
“Not my foot, you silly dog. My tooth.”
Mischief ran under the bed and came out with an old chewed up slipper.
Priyanka thumped her forehead with her palm.
“What happened Piyu?” It was Aparna, Priyanka’s older sister.
“My tooth’s missing,” sniffed Priyanka, looking up. She was on all fours, peeking through the gap under the cupboard.
“So no doll for you now,” teased Aparna.
Priyanka stood up and pushed her hands on her hips. “You know what? I think you took my tooth.”
“Why would I do that? It was full of cavities anyway.”
“Because you’re jealous I’m getting the doll.”
Aparna bit her lip hard. She didn’t know what to say. But suddenly, she had an idea. “Oh, that tooth. The tooth fairy already took it.”
Priyanka brightened up immediately. “And did she give you my doll?”
“Eh…well, she said the tooth was too small. And eh…” Aparna dashed into the bathroom and shut the door.
Priyanka burst into tears and ran out, straight into her father who had just walked in. She wrapped her hands around his legs. “Daddy,” she wailed, rubbing her eyes against his trousers. “The tooth fairy won’t give me a doll because my tooth is too small.”
Daddy ruffled her hair. “But I just met the tooth fairy. Look, she gave me this for you.”
Priyanka blinked her eyes in disbelief as she found a Barbie doll in her hands. The next moment, a wide grin stretched across her face. She hugged the doll and ran inside to play with her.
“How did you know Piyu’s tooth was missing?” asked Mummy, crossing her hands.
“We want to know as well,” said Suchi Mausi and Aparna together.
Mischief also ran out. Even he wanted some answers.
“Er…I…I accidently knocked it down the sink while shaving. So I ran out to get her a doll before she could find out.”
They all shook their heads as Daddy grinned back sheepishly.
© Copyright Prashant Pinge 2014. All Rights Reserved