To Kill A Mocking Doe

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"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience"

A small, proud smile crept across Anamika's face as she gazed at Aaron Parker's email attachment which he'd sent her earlier that morning.

'Harper Lee,' she murmured. 'Oh, Aaron!'

In the photo, he was standing with a bunch of children who seemed extremely excited and happy to be present around him, the teacher who considered himself worthy enough to turn the world around its heels. Quite frankly, Anamika had always seconded him on that. Looking at the photo of him standing there in a remote village of Saudi Arabia, doing what he had always wanted to do, realizing the only big dream he had ever entertained in his complicatedly entangled web of thoughts, Anamika did feel proud of her former English teacher. Aaron looked somewhat different in that photo; perhaps it was the glowering sunlight that made his face look grimmer than it actually was. She couldn't place this face on the man who had tormented her and her classmates back at Nestor High. Was this the same man who had caused a flutter in every girl's heart and yet instilled fear in every soul lurking in the deepest corners of the school? Anamika shook her head as she tapped the REPLY button.

Her fingers hovered over the keypad of her phone, ready to tap away, but she found herself at a loss of words. These weird blank spaces had been frequent of late. Churning up a string of thoughts, she began typing at last, maneuvering her fingers along the screen quickly.

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

I'm glad you didn't kill yours.

P.S.: It doesn't hurt to smile once in a while, you know?

She hit SEND when one of the airhostesses made the announcement for landing at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in roughly thirty minutes. She also requested the passengers to switch off electronic equipment and reminded them to fill out the International Customs Declaration form. Anamika sighed and put her phone in Airplane mode again, repeating to herself Maa's instruction to call her immediately after landing. It was more of an order but Anamika chose to take it in the stride. She'd changed after leaving for India a month ago with Maa. Things had changed. But her world essentially remained the same, or so it seemed. The one month that just passed was by far one of the most exhilarating as well as transformative periods of time Anamika had ever been through. Her perspective of everything around her changed. She felt like a reborn phoenix, only that she didn't emerge from flames but from ice; ice that was sharp enough to tear her fretful soul, cold enough to suffocate the doe that her conscience was, and yet serene enough for a third person to overlook her plight. She could tell Maa was on a similar dance throughout the wedding ceremony. She was there physically but her mind was clearly elsewhere. Anamika knew Maa still loved Dad despite everything that happened, and yet a part of her couldn't forgive him for that.

Her cousins had forced Anamika to watch the latest Bollywood period movie Bajirao Mastani with them. She loved Indian history but her heart wasn't into anything of late. She'd gone, nevertheless, only to feel morbid while watching the movie. The movie was about Peshwa Bajirao I, the Prime Minister and military strategist of one of the most illustrious Indian kingdoms, and how he'd fallen in love with a princess named Mastani when he was, in fact, already married to a doting and loving woman named Kashi Bai. The similarities between the movie's premise and her parents' lives were so brutal that she'd ended up crying her eyes out. Her cousins thought she was just moved by the skills of the actors on-screen; little did they know this nearly was the story of poor Anamika's life!

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