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“Tell that Maharani to wake up and at least help in packing the lunch boxes for the girls. In another half an hour, the girls would be here.” Anju shouted for her daughter in law.
The kitchen had been cleaned the night before. Next morning, food would be prepared for the ‘Goddess, Durga Ma’.
They had fasted for all 8 days for the prosperity of the family. No onions or garlic were touched for the 8 days. Anju had convinced her husband and son not to touch either alcohol or meat in these days. After all, it was important to be in the good books of the goddess.
She woke up at 4 am, took a bath, dressed in a clean red saree and took charge of the kitchen. As she prepared the halwa, the delicious smell could be detected even 3 flats away. Then she cooked the choley and puri.
In another room, Seema, her daughter in law, was trying to sleep, drenched in sweat. She had had a fever since the last two days. No one had come to ask her if she wanted even a glass of water. For them, she was nothing more than a glorified slave. Her parents could never provide the chosen gifts to boost their egos, and she was not smart enough to balance work and home, so she had not been able to please them.
Soon, it was time for the puja, and young girls dressed in their best traditional attires could be heard talking excitedly about how much they would collect today. It was the only day when they were so much in demand. ‘Kanjak’, the mini goddess, as they were called on that day.
Tia had worn her pink lehnga, matching pink and white bangles, and even worn trinkets. She had put on a small bindi, and she was looking adorable.
Seema slowly dragged herself off the bed. She wobbled a bit, but she had to stand up, or else she would be reminded for days that she was useless, and her parents “didn’t teach her even basic manners.”
Her hands were trembling as she slowly started packing up the giveaways.
“Look at her speed. Even after the night’s rest, she can’t do anything properly.”
Seema had tears in her eyes, but she did not dare to look up. It was a holy day and she did not want another fight in the house. She did not have any energy in her body as well to tell them about her condition.
Soon, the little girls started arriving. Tia was fond of Seema, and she would say, “Seema aunty is the most beautiful.” She never needed an invitation to come; the moment she spotted Seema back from work, she would come and chat with her. Tia’s mom would tease her that Seema aunty is your second mom.
The moment Tia entered, her eyes started searching for Seema. She was not interested in her feet being washed, or the goodies she was about to get. She spotted Seema and hugged her.
“Seema Aunty, you are so hot. When I’m this hot, mummy tells me I have fever.” She ran fast to call her mummy.
“Mummy, come fast, Seema aunty has fever.” Tia was shouting, so that her voice could reach her mother before her.
Up in heaven somewhere, Goddess Durga was laughing at the irony of her younger avtar being prayed to, and the older one being loathed.
Image source: By Arindam Mitra from Kolkata(Calcutta), India – Color of Joy…., CC BY 2.0, Link
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