5: Fate Not Coincidence

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"Shantanu. See who has come to see you."

"Chachuu! What happened to chachu Daddy?" Megha turned to her father.
"Megha!" Shantanu exclaimed smiling.

"Nothing's happened to chachu sweetheart, he's just playing the game of doctor-patient and he is pretending to be the patient. Soon he will say 'mein kahaan hoon (where am I) just like in the movies."

"What? Is that true? Chachu say it. Say mein kahaan hoon!"

"Mein kahaan hoon?" Shantanu complied.

Megha burst into giggles; "Ohoh that is sooo funny! So you are not hurt Chachu?"

"No my baby, I'm just pretending just like you do sometimes, when you don't want to go to school."

"Oh yes! I say that my stomach hurts...like this;" she clutched her stomach and make a face, "Then Great Dadi ma lets me stay at home."

"What? You do that? I thought Dadi ma was smarter than that. I will have to warn her;" Akshay said sternly.

Shantanu burst out laughing then winced.

"Careful bro! You don't want to ruin those stitches. Seems like they've made a road map of your stomach;" Akshay grinned. "Perhaps you are right. Dadi never denied us anything and now she's indulging Megha. Naughty girl!" he said aiming his fist playfully at Megha's chin.

Shaan watched this tender interaction between father and daughter with pleasure. He couldn't recall the last time when he had seen Akshay take time off work to spend some time with his daughter. Perhaps this accident had done some good after all.

Megha started to look around as if searching for something or someone. Shantanu then noticed for the first time the small scruffy looking teddy bear she held in her hand.

"Chachu? Have you seen the nice Doctor Aunty who gave me this teddy?"

"I don't think so sweetheart. Why do you ask?"

"Did you Dad?" Megha looked at her father.

"The only female doctor I've seen is your chachu's Doctor Agarwal;" he said giving his brother a knowing wink.
"Shantanu uncle, you know doctor aunty is the best doctor in the whole world;" Megha declared seriously.

"Why do you say so honey?"

"Because she gave me teddy;" Megha thrust the toy into his face. "Look isn't he the cutest? After the akk- see-dent, Teddy was the only one who slept with me and told me not to be scared. And I was not."

Shantanu threw Akshay a concerned look. He didn't want to believe that poor little Megha had to spend the nights since the accident alone with only a bedraggled stuffed toy for company. His brother dropped his eyes in guilt and hugged Megha tightly; "I am sorry baby. From now you won't sleep alone anymore, you'll sleep with Mom and Dad."

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