I tossed the paper away and rushed to the scene. My only daughter Sindu looked frightened.
Tears were welling up in her eyes. In front of her was a bowl filled to its brim with Curd Rice. Sindu is a nice child, quite intelligent for her age. She has just turned eight. She particularly detested Curd Rice. My mother and my wife are orthodox, and believe firmly in the 'cooling effects' of Curd Rice! I cleared my throat, and picked up the bowl.
"Sindu, darling,why don't you take a few mouthful of this curd rice? Just for Dad's sake, dear."
Sindu softened a bit, and wiped her tears with the back of her hands.
"OK, Dad. I will eat - not just a few mouthfuls, but the whole lot of this."
"But, you should..."
"Oh sure, darling."
I covered the pink soft hand extended by my daughter with mine, and clinched the deal.
"Ask Mom also to give a similar promise", my daughter insisted.
My wife put her hand on Sindu's, muttering 'Promise'. Now I became a bit anxious.
"Sindu dear, you shouldn't insist on getting a computer or any such expensive items. Dad does not have that kind of money right now. OK?"
"No, Dad. I do not want anything expensive."
Slowly and painfully, she finished eating the whole quantity.
I was silently angry with my wife and my mother for forcing my child eat something that she detested. After the ordeal was through, Sindu came to me with her eyes wide with expectation. All our attention was on her.
"Dad, I want to have my head shaved off, this Sunday!" was her demand.
"Atrocious!" shouted my wife, "A girl child having her head shaved off?"
"Sindu darling, why don't you ask for something else? We will be sad seeing you with a clean-shaven head."
"No, Dad. I do not want anything else", Sindu said with finality.
"Dad, you saw how difficult it was for me to eat that curd rice." Sindu was in tears. "And you promised to grant me whatever I ask for. Now, you are going back on your words. Was it not you who told me the story of King Harishchandra, and its moral that we should honor our promises no matter what?"
It was time for me to call the shots.
"Our promise must be kept."
"Are you out your mind?" chorused my mother and wife.
"No. If we go back on our promises, she will never learn to honor her own. Sindu, your wish will be fulfilled."
With her head clean-shaven, Sindu had a round-face, and her eyes looked big and beautiful.
On Monday morning, I dropped her at her school. It was a sight to watch my hairless Sindu walking towards her classroom. She turned around and waved. I waved back with a smile. Just then, a boy alighted from a car, and shouted, "Sinduja, please wait for me!"
What struck me was the hairless head of that boy.
I stood transfixed. And then, I wept. 'My little Angel, you are teaching me how self-less real love is!'