Vageshwari has been always singing in her home; in the kitchen creating rhythms on the cutting board at the time of chopping vegetables, dusting the furniture in the living room humming, and this goes on at the time of oiling, bathing, feeding or lulling Sargam, her daughter, to sleep. The rhythm of life in her apartment takes a musical turn right from the beginning when first she gets up from her bed in the morning, then drinks tea and waits for her little Sargam to get up and add to another melody in her world with the rhythms of her own childlike demands. Sometimes mingling with the melody of her passionate queries and repetitions of what she has been thinking in her own simple way to whosoever she meets on her way to school. She had been telling all people, particularly her cousins, Sudeshna and Mridul that her Daddy will bring with him her yellow bike in December. She does not know exactly where his Daddy has gone. If asked about Daddy she tells that he has gone to college.
These days Vageshwari is preparing her for the musical programme of the school. She has chosen raag Bhairavi for Sargam to sing on the stage on the day this musical programme will take place. Sargam also has a talent for singing. But she is too shy to sing before others. Vageshwari is worried about that. Her father, far away from home, is praying for her daughter’s successful performance on the stage. He is confident because Sargam sang the lines on the phone line when he called Vageshwari last Friday. He heard from Vageshwari that Sargam lost her Dandia dance-sticks in the school and the guardians were not allowed in. So she could not find them; however she got the assurance from the guard that she might get them back when the school opens on Saturday. At the play school it is a common thing that children sometimes lose their things. Kedar and Vageshwari know that Sargam is too young to take care of her things at the school. They console Sargam by telling that they will bring for her another set of dance-sticks. For sometime she thinks of them and then something else will take their place. And this replacement mechanism is simple in Sargam. At times she becomes too persistent in her demands and then suddenly after a while forgets the object of her interest. Bageshwari tells Kedar that this happens at the young age.
In her young days, at her school, Bageshwari took part in dancing and singing performances. Still her friends and cousins remember the programme she gave at the interschool competitions of her state. She remembers her guru, the music teacher, with great reverence. When she grew up, she became a teacher and earned the name as a good organizer of extra-curricular activities at the school where she worked. She remembers and recites with great clarity and fervor the Sanskrit prayers and wants Sargam to memorize them. For her she had got a small prayer book which she received last year from her father. This has been sent especially for Sargam. Vageshwari and Kedar like to imbibe into her the good things of their culture for a full growth of Sargam’s personality.
Kedar feels that his personality would have been better if he had learnt to play a musical instrument. He wanted to play the violin in his undergraduate days. But he could not continue with his desire to do so. He loves music. As Bageshwari compensates her unconscious desire of not going far in her interest by singing in her home, Kedar makes up the gap by listening to music. Both of them do not want this gap in Sargam’s personality.
The desire to avoid a gap of this kind by filling it has recently brought about an undesired change in their lives. Absence of a good school in the city of Ibb where Kedar works has forced them to think about Sargam’s education in their home country. Now Vageshwari and Sargam live together in a suburb of Mumbai. The rhythm of their lives is calm – bound in a scheduled life. But there is always an unknown fear for they did not live far away from Kedar before. They are patiently waiting for the month of April, as if the April touch will bring them together as the summer vacation of Sargam will begin. The mother and the daughter will come to Yemen.
Meanwhile Kedar had been planning to come to Mumbai in Eid Al-Adha holidays to meet Bageshwari and Sargam. What's more, this would give him a chance to attend annual sports of Sargam's school in which Sargam was participating in three events; in one of them she would be dressed as a hen!
Amid all this excitement Sargam can not forget her bike which she left in Ibb and she just wanted it back. While playing cricket in the park in the evening with her newly-acquired grandfathers she met other children on their bikes and this was enough to bring tears in her eyes. She told Bageshwari to call Daddy to bring her bike. When Kedar called Bageshwari to inform that he would be reaching Mumbai in the early hours of morning, Sargam took the phone from her mother's hand and told her Daddy to bring the bike. She wanted the bike. Next morning she told Bageshwari that she saw her bike in her dream; the green-and-yellow-coloured bike which was kept in the home where daddy lived, the home with cream-colored walls. She started crying for her bike. Bageshwari conveyed this dream of her little daughter to Kedar on the phone and tried to persuade him to bring the bike. Kedar told her that he would buy a new bike from Shanti Nagar the very day he would be there. But Vageshwari like Sargam wanted the same bike. Kedar's best friend when heard about it said to him that either you should take this bike with you or you must buy a new bike from the nearby market before entering your apartment in Mumbai. “Remember, you should never go home without a bike.” Eventually, Kedar decided to take the bike with him; to give his daughter a surprise by opening the magic box before her and taking the bike out all at once.
Kedar’s plane reached before time. He was eagerly waiting for Vageshwari and Sargam to appear through the haze of the early hours of a December morning at the Departure Terminal of the International Airport of Mumbai. They came. The taxi was waiting. They hurriedly got into it to reach their apartment building in Beverly Park. Kedar suddenly found Sargam in his front trying to sit in his lap and looking at him silently wide-eyed as if she could not believe that his Daddy was in front of her! It seemed she had forgotten to ask about her bike. For the past fifteen days Kedar had been trying to pack the bike in such a way that it could be given to Sargam like an open sesame, or as if it had dropped at once from the sky before her.
Sargam was sitting in Kedar's lap clasping him and looking at his face. She had grown taller and wiser in these three months. Kedar thought. Kedar's best friend from the Sudan in Ibb told him an Arabic proverb that the girls grow fast as if they have hay on their heads and the boys grow gradually as if they have stones put on their heads. They had breakfast together like as they used to have in their apartment in Ibb, sitting together around the dinning table. Bageshwari, Sargam and Kedar were sharing the things which they always enjoyed together but now they took place at two different places; they were trying to harmonize their different notes by being in concert.
And after reaching home quietly Sargam climbed down slowly from the lap of Kedar and went into the living-room and was about to remove her shoes and shocks, at that moment she noticed a huge box lying beside the dinning-table. Suddenly she got pulled up by the unusual bigness of the box and came drawn towards to it to see it out of her natural curiosity. The box was tied with the deep red and pink nylon ropes. Both Kedar and Bageshwari started smiling mysteriously and Sargam with a puzzled expression on her face, looked at their faces and asked, “What is there in this big box? Why is it kept here?” Kedar slowly untied the ropes and opened the box. First he took out two foam pillows which he kept to keep the bike steady, then a very big teddy bear that was given by his best friend for Sargam and finally to the surprise of Sargam he took out the yellow bike from the huge box like a thousand-coloured rainbow which spread out from horizon to horizon in an unimaginable arch. Sargam stood transfixed for a moment, took the bike and started wheeling around into the two bedroom flat like an incarnation of Vishnu who conquered with the three steps the demon as if she had conquered her envy, lack and longing with this boon. She got transported into another world of bliss. And soon it was time for Sargam to go to school. Sargam was happy to walk in the middle with Vageshwari and Kedar walking on both sides. Sargam was all joy between Daddy and Mamma looking for a while at Daddy and them at Mamma. She reached at the gate of the school and speaking to herself as if saying this to the gate-keeper, “Let me say good-bye to Daddy and Mamma” before she was ushered into her class. At 2.30 pm Bageshwari and Kedar were at the gate of the school waiting with other parents.
Sargam came out and started walking with them, immediately after a few steps she wanted Kedar to carry her on his back. This is what she wanted from her Daddy for his absence. Like a monkey-baby she had climbed on the back on his Daddy looking quietly at passing of buses, autos and people, enjoying her ride. Bageshwari told her to sing the song that she had sung at the cultural programme of the school. Sargam hid her face, too shy to sing. After sometime a sweet voice was heard floating in the air and through her lips a sweet melody flowed out:
Dagar chalat chede Shyam sakhi ri
Main dungi gari, nipat anari
Paniya bharat meri gagar phori
Nahak bahiyan marori, jhakjhori
Dagar chalat chede Shyam sakhi ri…
And merged with the mood of the trinity, the three people; the father, the daughter and the mother who finally reached their abode; Vageshwari and Kedar with Sargam on his back, found themselves standing before the elevator of their apartment. The elevator stopped at their floor and they stepped out of it to enter into their home. Bageshwari opened the safety door. Sargam climbed down from the back of Kedar and went into the living-room and there in front of her was standing her yellow bike. And then Sargam came back running to her father looking shyly at him clasped him closely and both of them stood there like a lighthouse of affection torching over the dark seas of separation.