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“Anu, where are you? Are you out of your mind girl? Playing out in the sun, that too with boys!!! If you grow dark or have scarred knees no one will marry you.”
Anu scowled but submitted to her mother roughly pulling her into the house. She was eleven and she already knew what she did not want to grow up to be. She did not want to be like her mother. Always cooking, cleaning, bitching, gossiping. She wanted to be like Kalpana Chawla or even Priety Zinta who owned an IPL team.
She was roughly shaken by the shoulder “What are you thinking girl? Go wash your hands and start with the embroidery.”
She quietly went and washed her hands with soap and water, came and sat down to embroider that lemon coloured bedsheet.
“By your age, I had already embroidered five sarees for my dowry.” continued her mother proudly, completely ignoring the mutinous expression on her daughter’s face. Anu went through the motions of threading the needle and starting to embroider. “After one hour, you can complete your homework and then come to the kitchen to roll out the chappatis for dinner.” Her mother left the room, no doubt to attend to zillion things housewives have to do. Anu stared at the needlework balefully wondering how to get out of doing it.
Kamala, the daughter of their maid was standing watching her. She asked softly in a very subservient tone “Didi, dont you like to make these pretty things?”
“No! I want to study and play, I hate cooking and needle work”
“Can you help me with my English homework Didi?”
“How can I, I have to do this stupid thing!”
They both looked at each other as the pact formed in their minds. Every afternoon, both of them escaped the roles their mothers assigned to them. Anu got to study and Kamala got to embroider silky bedsheets with expensive threads that she could not afford.
For the Colonel’s Lady and Judy O’Grady
Are sisters under the skin