The St. Mary’s Convent school bus stopped at the bus stop for Rosaline to alight. This was Rashmi’s favourite stop, for straining her neck a bit, she could get a peek at one of the most beautiful houses that she had seen so far; that of Rosaline’s. She adored the velvet, green, sprawling lawn with beautiful flower beds of roses, chrysanthemum, huge dahlias, lovely pansies and so many others. The house to her, seemed like a castle from the fairy tales that she would read and it’s location, slightly on an elevation, made it a house on the cliff. In her heart Rashmi would always try to visualise, how amazing it would be to live in that house.
Today, was a magical dream day for Rashmi. She and one other friend, Hiya had been invited to Rosaline’s house for a play date. They were all classmates, studying in St. Three. Rashmi could not wait for the evening to come. She had never imagined that she would get a chance to enter that beautiful house of her dreams. She would now be able to actually step on that luxurious lawn and see the heavenly, beautiful flowers from very close ! The evening arrived and Rashmi’s mother, Veena came to drop her at the house. A butler and a maid, who would be there everyday at the bus stop for Rosaline, were there along with Rosaline to receive her. Veena enquired of Rosaline’s mother but was told that she was busy inside. A bit wary, Veena left Rashmi with Rosaline and Hiya saying that she would come to pick her up in two hours. Rashmi’s heart was jumping in joy. As soon as they turned to go into the house, Rashmi suggested they run together inside, to which immediately the maid told them all quite firmly that they needed to follow some rules. Rashmi and Hiya had surprise on their faces as they were guided into a massive drawing room, exquisitely done up. Before Rashmi could really look around at the amazing decor and art pieces, the instructions from the maid floated,
“No playing in this room at all. Nobody will touch any thing. Everything is very expensive so nobody will even stay here. You three will only play in Baby’s room. Come along with me.” Rosaline was the baby, as they understood soon. Gaping at the beautiful crystals, statues, a pretty fountain and unimaginably beautiful lace curtains, Rashmi followed the maid, through a lobby to Rosaline’s room. It was a big room, very nicely done up with almost everything around that a nine year girl may want. There were dolls, games a swing and a bicycle that one could ride in the backyard.
“You will all play like good girls here. No going out of this room and the balcony here and no screaming or shouting please. Ma’m gets very angry with indiscipline. Rosaline you know mamma, so please do not do anything that would make her angry,” came a stern reminder from the maid again “ I am going to get snacks for you all. And yes, no stepping on to the lawn at all. You will spoil the grass.”
Rashmi’s hopes of walking on the velvet grass and admiring the beautiful flowers from close quarters, were dashed. As soon as she left, Rashmi and Hiya started jumping on the bed, then all three of them trying long jumps in the balcony and taking turns on the swing.
“ Rosaline, is aunty very strict? Why are there so many instructions? I have a big two storied house, with many rooms. We have a drawing room for guests too but we do not have so many strict instructions. My friends are absolutely free to sit in the drawing room. Of course we are old enough to be careful not to break things but my mother loves having my friends over and they can play anywhere. We play hide n seek too in our house. I think aunty does not know that we are well behaved, big children or else she would never instruct so, no? smiled Rasmi as she took a big swing on the swing.
“ Oh what do I see? It is a doll house? You have such a big doll house, Rosaline? Wow! come let’s play there,” said an excited Rashmi as she spotted a big play house beside the balcony, out side the room. The three girls ran there. It was a beautiful house. It had furniture inside and a kitchen too. The girls very happily got busy playing house, house there. Suddenly Hiya said,
“Let’s imagine today to be a Diwali. So we are all very busy. I will be busy in the kitchen making varieties of sweets, Rosaline please clean up the whole house and Rashmi, you are good at decorating, so please take care of that.” And the girls pretended to be as real as they could. Rashmi was thinking of decoration and she remembered that she would help her mother make beautiful rangolis for Diwali. So she could try doing it by herself here. But where does she get the colours from, she thought? She could make it with flowers, like they, at times, did.” So how could she get the flowers when they were told not to even step onto the lawn? She was wondering when suddenly her eyes fell on some pots neatly arranged under a tree, outside the lawn. They had huge dahlias and the most beautiful roses that she had ever seen. Her eyes lit up. Her rangoli material problem was resolved. She plucked the choicest few and plucking the petals made a pretty rangoli in front of the play house. All three were admiring their lovely work when a shrill voice screamed,
“Rosaline! Who has plucked these flowers?” stood Rosaline’s mother with a face flushed with anger. The girls froze but Rasmi’s mother always had taught her to stand up for herself so she softly said,
“Aunty, I plucked them to make rangoli for our house. We were playing a pretend game where it was to be Diwali.” Before she could finish came a tight slap on her cheek.
“How dare you? These flowers were for the flower show tomorrow. You have spoiled them. What am I supposed to do now you idiot? And this is why Rosaline, I don’t allow any of your friends to come over for they do not know high living and good manners. I am having you drop off to your place right away, you chit of a girl,” fired Rosaline’s mother as she stormed away.
Rashmi was all red in humiliation, fear as well as anger. She had never been treated like this before. The car came to the portico and she scrambled into it and fought hard to control her sobs till she reached home. A surprised Veena opened the door and a sobbing Rashmi fell into her arms.
“Mamma, really I did not know that those flower pots were kept for the flower show.”
After calming her down, Veena heard the whole thing from her and hugged her tight. Asking her to run along and wash her face she picked up the phone to give Rosaline’s mother a nice piece of her mind but for Rashmi, the house on the cliff had fallen for ever.