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by Rugmani K L
(Coimbatore, India)

On a December morning, Lakshmi saw a coin again at her doorsteps when she went to see her daughter off to school.

'Would chaaru do this? Would the coin have fallen from her school bag? Her school has asked the students strictly not to bring any money with them to school. All fee payments have become online too. Where did she get the money from? What's her need? Some coins were missing from my purse too. No..Chaaru won't take it without my knowledge.. ' Too many thoughts flashed in her mind.

Lakshmi started worrying. It was because she remembered her club friend Archana talking about the recent drug mafia in their town. "We need to keep a vigilant eye on our teenage kids." She kept hearing Archana's words. Archana had narrated how her neighbour caught her teenage son from stealing money.

Archana's talks and it's thoughts had disturbed Lakshmi from sleep too. Although she had trust in her daughter, these days Chaaru has become silent and most of the time she wanted to spend time in her room alone in the pretext of either reading or listening to songs. It was hard for her to believe, her once talkative Chaaru wants to be alone now. It was tough to accept that change.

Ten days of disturbed sleep has been troubling Lakshmi's day-time routine too. She appears moody and irritable most mornings. She found some fault or the other in each and everyone in the house. With her daughter, it was all the more. As her husband ignored her fear about Chaaru, Lakshmi got mentally stressed all the more as the whole matter was in her head and she was handling it all alone.

Seeing rupee coins a few days at the steps Lakshmi feared if her daughter was stealing money for any malpractice particularly connected with drugs. " No, she wont be doing it..god has always blessed me with good things. . He will not trouble me or my daughter." She told herself. "Then where are those fallen coins from? " this is happening for over a week now. " she could not forget that completely.

In pretext of cleaning the room
Lakshmi checked Chaaru's bag once to be caught by her. This created a gap in their communication and trust. Her daughter expressed that she didn't like her mom spying her and as a reaction to that Chaaru stopped talking to her mom for a couple of days..

Lakshmi had found two coins that day in her daughter's bag. Her husband had given it to her daughter for buying some stationary. Without knowing that she questioned chaaru. Lakshmi didn't believe her daughter's words and that created anger in chaaru..

One day Lakshmi saw an old man sleeping at her doorsteps. Hearing Lakshmi opening the door, he woke up and walked away carrying a sack. She saw a five rupee coin there.

Lakshmi asked herself " what if the coin is from his pocket? But how can a beggar leave coins daily? She decided to disbelieve her thought.

Two days later she saw the same beggar old man again sleeping there . She saw him putting a coin at the steps, where he was sleeping, from his pocket before he walked away. Lakshmi called him to find out if he did it consciously. He didn't listen or answered her call.

Seeing this, the milkman who came to deliver milk explained to her not to bother much about the beggar and the habit of the beggar to leave some money at the place where he slept. He added the beggar is mentally unwell and he never answers anyone.

Hearing all the stories lakshmi felt guilty. A small news from her friend Archana had created a worry in her. That worry made her think ill of her daughter. She felt bad about misunderstanding Chaaru's teenage activities of wanting to be alone reading and listening to her favourite songs. Now, she went back to her teenage days where she too wanted some "me time" away from elders. Knowing the reality about the mysterious coin at her doorsteps, she was very happy and peaceful after long. That evening she baked Chaaru's favourite cake. Knowing her mistake she could now clearly see Chaaru's silence and wanting to be alone, for sometime, in a day as part of her growing up.

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