It was hard to say when Neeti got double vision. It wasn't there one minute and the very next it was. Suddenly, the road turned terribly crowded. People were jostling each other, pushing to get ahead. She rubbed her eyes, shook her head violently. But that instant crowd didn't disappear - it rushed on at her.
Then…she realised what had happened. All of a sudden, everyone had multiplied into two, sprouted a twin - like a shadow walking next to them. Neeti's heart leapt up.
Dazed, she turned to look for her own twin, a skinny, bright-eyed 11-year-old, but for some strange reason she didn't have any. She felt disappointed, relieved and scared at the same time. There was a feeling of being left out, but also a sense of relief. She wasn't sure she wanted an instant twin.
She made her way down the road, turning this way and that to avoid the crowd. All the same she couldn't avoid bumping into one or two people who gave her irritable looks. What a problem! Neeti fervently hoped it would go off soon on its own the way it had come.
Then she saw Shreya, or rather two Shreyas coming down the road. Shreya was in her class - a girl she didn't like. She had the habit of saying the nastiest things to your face.
"Hi Shortie!" Shreya cried. Neeti wanted to kick her. She knew she was the shortest girl in her class. Nobody needed to rub it in.
Then, she saw it - a huge spider crawling up Shreya's arm! In a moment it would reach her face. She had to do something. No matter how awful Shreya was, she couldn't let a spider crawl all over her. Immediately, she reached out to brush it off.
"What are you up to?" Shreya cried, "waving your arms about like that. Have you gone nuts!"
Oops! She'd got the wrong Shreya! "There's a spider on you!" she exclaimed, brushing at the real one.
"Oooh!" Shreya screamed, as she saw the spider scuttling off.
But Neeti's head was spinning. Suddenly she couldn't take any more of this. She had to get home. Maybe she would suddenly wake up and find it was just a bad dream.
When she got home, sure enough there were two Mammas instead of one and she didn't know which one to hug! Then, as she looked from one to the other, she noticed something. The expressions on their faces were different. One looked tired and careworn, the other bright and perky.
On an impulse she leapt forward and hugged the cheery-looking Mamma. And turned out to be right. Because she hugged her back, saying, "What's the matter? Why are you looking so puzzled and confused? Well…come, have lunch."
"Okay!" Neeti said, trying to sound as normal as possible. If only she could tell Ma what was happening to her. But would she believe it?
Suddenly she felt horribly tired. So tired that she couldn't even do her homework after lunch and found herself flopping on to her bed and dozing off right away.
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