Here is a little sample from my novel. At this rate, it will take a long time to write it, but sometimes it is the effort that counts.
Zohra ran excitedly alongside her father and younger sister. She always had to walk rather hurriedly to keep pace with father long strides. The younger one was in father's arms, prattling as he walked.
She had two sisters older than her, and another between her and the one presently enjoying the trip out with her. When abba had asked his six year old if she was ready to go for a walk with him, she had wanted to take her gurriya along with her.
When this younger sister was about to be born, Zohra's mother had told her they were getting her a gurriya. Since then she had considered the newly born baby as her doll. She cherished her gurriya, and as soon as she was able to, she started looking after whatever needs she could. While she would allow others to hold her gurriya, it wouldn't be for long, and gurriya slept with her, period.
A walk with abba was always a pleasure for all the girls. He was so kind and gentle, He worked very hard, but tried to take at least one evening off in a week, to be with his family. The girls were learning not to make demands on him. They were good learners. He, however, tried to give them a small treat whenever he took one of them out. And he balanced his walks with his daughters so that everyone received an almost equal number of time.
Zohra was the favorite, though. Her mother showed her favoritism by loading her with responsibility, or maybe it was just a necessity. A six year old girl can carry an awful lot of responsibility in poverty stricken parts of the world, and she was mother's assistant. The older ones also helped, but somehow she would soon act as a mother to her younger sisters, and administrator to the older ones. Amman, with so many kids to look after, needed help, and when her third daughter started helping her, she naturally landed the job.
She did not mind it. Children don't. They think it is play.
Abba tried to hide his favoritism, for he loved his other daughters equally well, but this one was special. They were all pretty, some more than the others, but all had inherited their mother's looks and proportions, not their father's. The latter would have been a disaster, or maybe not - depends on what you think disaster is.
As they walked past the confectionary shop displaying a proud large sign: "AK Sweet House", on Frere Road, she glanced at it, stopped just that little while, as her eyes caught sight of the sweets displayed. She started moving again, but kept looking back, even when they had gone a long distance forward. Her father had noticed that hesitation in front of the shop, and the longing in her glances, and he asked:
"Do you want to eat a sweet or something?"
Zohra said, "No, abba".
Abba knew. She wanted to eat sweets, but had learnt to control her wants. His heart went out to her, and he said:
"Come, let me buy you something."
Zohra did not refuse any more; instead she said happily: "OK, abba", and they turned back. She had forgotten her restraint. After all, she was only six.
As they entered the shop, abba took his two daughters to a corner and seated them facing the road. They could watch the Neon signs and flashing lights on other shops, and see the busy rickshaws and the tram over the heads of the pedestrians who were themselves a treat to watch.
"What will you eat?" asked abba, "Rasgullas, Chum Chum, Imartee, Ghulab Jaman, or what?"
"What will you eat gurriya?", Zohra asked her sister in turn.
"rush goola", said the gurriya, in her broken tongue, and Zohra broke into a smile, which turned into a happy grin. She loved to listen to her sister - she talked so cute. She hugged her gurriya.
So rasgulla it was.
Abba went to the counter to place the order, and stayed there to talk to the owner. A waiter brought a plate of rasgullas to the kids. When abba had finished with his exchange of views with the owner of the shop, he looked in their direction to make sure they had eaten. Then he signaled them to come to him. He made his payment, and they came out of the shop. After walking some distance, he asked the girls if they had liked the rasgullas.
"Yes", both said happily.
"How many did you eat?"
"We both ate from one. Gurriya has such a small stomach. I had to force her to eat a little" , informed Zohra.
"But I paid for six", said abba, a little upset at the waste of five rasgullas. That was a substantial amount in his book.
Zohra thought very, very quickly, on her feet at it were. "Abba, we left them for the sisters. We can go back, and get them in a shopping bag".
They did that, and on the way back, abba thought of his responsible and loving daughter, and made a silent prayer for her.
He had learnt a lesson.
From that time onwards, whenever he bought a child something, he did the same for other children as well.
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Monday, November 17, 2008