Eleven

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Eleven
☢☢☢

"Hey, Daniel!" Ronghei called to him in high spirit as he climbed down from his Scorpio. "You're the man! This is what I have been talking about. Well done!"

"Daniel, this is too good. Your house even looks better in real life than in the picture," said Shangdar as her eyes stayed glued to the cabin in awe. "Are these the flowers that you and Lily bought?"

"Yes. Lily bought them. Not me. She even watered them every morning and evening while she was here."

"Oh, I hope she was helpful to you."

"She was. She didn't make me do anything," he stretched it a little and Lily burst laughing from the car door.

Ronghei smirked at his daughter and went forward to meet Puh Khozii and Che Dune who appeared on the porch. Behind them, Daniel's cousins Sahriine and Eziine followed, every one of them thrilled to be seeing each other again. Daniel went towards Lily.

"Isn't this Sahriine's daughter?" Lily asked. Sahriine had married a man from the same tribe five years ago. She'd moved to Imphal since to be with her husband who worked in a private hospital as a Radiographer. They had all come for Daniel's party.

"Yes. This is our smart and beautiful Miss Veidone. Say hi to Aunty Lily."

Veidone shied away and hid her face into Daniel's shoulder, smiling embarrassedly.

"Oh, what is this? I thought you were smart," chuckled Daniel. "Come on, you can talk to her in either English or Manipuri. She understands both. She can even paint your nails."

The girl shook her head.

Daniel laughed again and kissed her head fondly. Lily could almost picture how warm and loving he would be as a father. When the girl heard her father's voice calling for her mother, she moved and Daniel set her down on her feet. Off she went toward her mother.

"She seems to grow so fast," Lily said. "I feel like she was born only last month. I brought you something, by the way. A housewarming gift."

"You didn't have to bring anything. Your presence alone is enough. You're the guest of honor today."

"My Lord! I'm so so honored. Just let me grace this party with my shining presence." She laughed and reached out for her present in the backseat.

Daniel watched her open the box, a metallic, musical chime ensuing from it. He waited curiously. Then, pulling it up by a silvery hook, Lily turned to him holding a wind chime in her hand. She ran her fingers along the cylindrical tubes, sending a string of light musical notes in the air.

"Do you like it?" she asked, raising to her toes in excitement.

He grinned at her. "It's perfect."

"Lucky you. It's yours now." She handed it to him.

"Thank you," he took it from her and planted a kiss on her head.

Lily followed him to the porch where he hung the wind chime, right in the direction of the wind. The wind came sailing through the metal tubes, sending another tune in the air. The elders sat in the way of the breeze in the front yard, basking in the warm sunlight, and Eziine was serving them a glass of water each. She was a nurse at the district hospital and the one home with her parents.

"Are you going back with your parents today?" Daniel asked Lily.

"Yes. I have classes going on."

"Why don't you stay back for a day or two? I haven't gotten over the heartbreak you gave me when you left the last time." He looked down at her with mischief in his eyes.

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