Maira had been very quiet and gloomy for almost a fortnight now. All her chirping and festivity had been vanished all of a sudden. She did not talk to any one for hours upon hours and would keep gazing towards the sky as if searching for a lost treasure. She had concealed herself in an invisible shell. Many a time her mother would go up to her and wave hands before her eyes as to catch her attention and bring her back from her very own world of imagination. She wouldn’t notice at all. Then in a moment of brief realization, she would startle and look into her mother’s bothered eyes in a childlike wonder and amazement –“Mom, do you see what I do?” she would inquire in such an innocent manner that her mother’s heart would break into a billion pieces.

Her silence had silenced even the most silent of people around –her father!

It was this breezy, autumn afternoon when she very secretly sneaked out of the bedroom while both parents lay in deep slumber. As she tried to click open the door knob, it made an unusual sound that made her mother wriggle in her sleep. Maira looked back from the corner of her eyes –bending down as if trying to hide herself –and took a breather as none of the parents were roused by the noise. At this, she stepped into the corridor and away she went.

At dinner that night, eating their customary fish & chips meal like every other Sunday, the mother noticed a slight mud-stain on her frock. She inquired her about the blot out of curiosity. “It’s nothing Mum,” She went in a very quiet tone. “Maybe it’s because of Coco’s paws. Her claws were also messy with mud. She did it while I was playing with her,” She went on to tell. Although the mother wasn’t quite buying what she said, she still listened to her patiently and nodded her head in affirmative to make Maira sure she trusted her.

The next night when she was practicing her observation of the stars, and yes she enamored stars since her childhood, her father stood behind her, wrapping his hands over her eyes. She smiled like a fairy before she said, “Papa…,” “Go on my kid,” the father responded, anticipating that she would now tell the secret behind her sheer gloom. “Papa…,” she said again and paused a little. The father knew she was very introvert in expressing her inner feelings so he remained patient until she spoke again, “Father, I will tell you tomorrow. I will rather show it to you.” The father grinned at this as he turned her face back towards himself. He looked into her deep, starry eyes as he asked ever so softly, “you promise, my princess?” she said nothing but extended her hand to shake her father’s. The deal was sealed –eventually.  

When she came back home from school in the next afternoon, she went straight to her father’s study room and took his hand without uttering a single word, ushering him to the lawn where the plants seemed pale and a dry wind blew across the sky. She took him to the eastern corner of the garden and went down on her knees, slowly digging the sand up with her soft, little hands. Bemused, the father sat on his toes right beside her, as he looked on what she did next. As she finished digging, it appeared that a blue star, the one he presented to her on her seventh birthday, was buried there in the mud. The father looked on at her in an exclamatory manner as she finally broke the ice, “papa you told me stars keep shining even after a lot of mud is rubbed onto them. I just wanted to check whether my star keeps glowing after being buried.” The father remained shell-shocked at how deep his daughter could think. He finally came out of his momentary state of surprise as he embraced her, whispering around her ears, “Stars do keep shining, my little star! Only the mud is worldly sorrows that befall us. They should never let you down. And once you overcome these hurdles, your star will never fade.” Maira’s eyes shone as she was all smiles.

The mystery had been revealed.