Ira woke up groggy eyed and smiled remembering their little game of hide and seek. He had hidden under daddy’s big chair while she went looking everywhere for him. Behind the curtains, in the clothes basket, under the study table, everywhere, before she finally spotted the furry brown tail wagging from under the chair. She jumped in joy, did a li’l dance of victory and had grabbed at him announcing she had won! Bojo had been particularly playful and had made her run after him. 

Outside it was warm, the sun was still high and her brown hair flew in the breeze. Ira lay on the green garden grass with Bojo by her side, watching the cottony clouds drift in the vast blue sky. Once she saw a ship and then the giant elephant and she followed the big rabbit ears till they merged with galloping horse. This was her favourite time of the day as she showed Bojo her friends in the sky. She put out her hand as if she could touch the clouds and then laugh as she clutched the thin air. 

They watched the sun go down and the sky turn a deep orange and the stars began to peep out. It was time for daddy to be home. She rushed to the front porch and waited for him.

And there he was calling out! Ira ran to into his big hug, eyes twinkling!

And so the chirping would begin! As daddy helped her into her night clothes and as they fed Bojo and as Shashi (the maid servant) called them for dinner and as they ate and as daddy wrote in his study and as she sat all curled up in his lap on the big rocking chair, Ira would tell him about all her day’s events. How she had chased squirrels and had cereal for breakfast and how Bojo had been bad and how they played ball and watched the sunset. And then at bedtime some days she’d demand a story, on others a song and he’d break into the familiar tune as she listened in awe! He would rock her to sleep and sometimes slept in the same chair lest he woke her up.

Ira was a happy child. And Daddy was all she had. He was her family, he was her hero!

And they had a beautiful world of their own. He would play squiggle with her as they took turns to draw, teasing her imagination. He would tell her about how she would go to school next year. And the different faraway lands he would take her to, on vacations. He would tell her about her beautiful mother and how much she loved Ira. He would play hopscotch with her and teach her numbers. They would go counting flowers in the garden and he’d teach her how to say the different colours. They lived in a beautiful niche of their own.

One morning daddy called Ira in and said her grandparents were to come home and that he wanted her to be a good girl while they were here. And a good girl she was. As she dressed in her best frock, and beamed on, he proudly greeted his parents.

It upset him that they didn’t seem to take a liking to the child. He would comfort Ira and reassure her late in the night, when they were alone in the study. That night as he sang a lullaby, he felt deeply protective about the child and held her close. 

They told him she needed to go. They said Ira was not good for him. He was angry. But what did they know? How could they not love such a beautiful one as her? Ira was only an innocent child, and why would they call her evil? Did they not understand he was all she had? Did they not see how happy they were? Did they not understand that She was his own? 

He blinked his eyes open and looked up at the tall man with the crooked nose, beady eyes and teeth a perfect white that matched the colour of his coat, peering down at him. He was saying something in an inaudible whisper. He suddenly heard it. The doc said she would soon be gone. He could see Ira weeping. How dare they hurt her? They had no right to be tearing his perfect family to pieces. They threatened to send her away. Forever. They threatened to stifle the very breath out of the little one. His Little one. He was agitated as he fought back tears.

Five months and 17 days later…

The doc walked into the familiar white room and greeted him. He was pronounced fit to go home. The only other people around were his parents. The smiles showed relief and the tears a gleam of joy at his recovery.

They had told him Ira was gone. They told him that Ira was never really there.

That he was right about Ira being his own. A projection of his own desire and longing. A figment of his own imagination. Ira was truly His own!

The sky was a perfect blue and as he walked back down the familiar garden path, he looked out into the distance and smiled to himself. He felt grateful as he looked up into the sky and Ira’s rabbit smiled back at him. Wait till she hears about it!

P.S.  This story is about man’s imagination. Imaginary friends, relatives or companions are a psychological phenomenon wherein new people and relationships are made in ones imagination. They’re often made during childhood or adolescence and sometimes even in adulthood. Surreal as it may seem, they often have detailed personalities and bring out a person’s fears, anxiety, stress, insecurities and even their perceptions of the world. Some may converse with them; some can describe them physically, characteristically. Some others may be too shy to admit. It is believed that as children grow up they tend to forget or leave their imaginary friends behind. However, a little known fact is that a lot of people may actually choose to retain their friends, only silently so as to avoid undue attention from the people in the real world. To them we can peacefully co-exist. And again, this doesn’t make these people mentally unwell. Most psychologists believe that it is only their own way of dealing with their issues.

– Written by Guest Writer: Divya Srinivasan as a run-up to my 2nd blogoversary.

Divya has put her pen down to paper after almost 4 years, and I’m glad she did (on my insistence). 😉