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LightsViews: 468
Oct 24, 2006 5:42 amLights#

Harjee Kapur®
She laughed. Laughed in delight.
She was about to leave for home.
To her village.
She was going on a vacation.
“Off season” they said.
She liked home. And she always liked the lights.
Every year the first few weeks of vacation were full of light.
Sudden flashes. Sudden bursts of joy.

The man walks in. He has been staring at her for a while now.
The half smoked cigarette dangling from his mouth.
He gives her a half grunt and walks away scratching his privates.
She brushes his image aside with a wave of her hand.
She had one more round of threads to tie.
One more round of wickers to set.
And the gift she was preparing would be ready.

The gift for the princess who lived far away in the big city.
Daughter of the king who paid their wages.
The king who would to anything for his little princess.
They said the princess also liked lights.
Maybe they were twins separated at birth?
She wished she was a princess.
A princess who people would pay to make happy.
Maybe she indeed was a princess.
Kept in hiding from evil armies.

It is late and she is alone. She is also afraid.
There are not many people around.
And the man has started lurking around again.
Should she just complain to the wage manager in the morning?
As if reading her thoughts… he spits a fury of red paan on the wall and walks away.
She is almost done with the task.
The knots are tied. The shiny shreds of paper are set.
She must clean up the working area now.

This was the part she hated most.
The careful removal of the powder residue from the work slab.
And the yucky way it all stuck to her.
The way it crept on her when it mixed with sweat as she walked back home.
The vigorous washing with the same water over and over again.
It made her sick for hours after. And killed her appetite.
She could hardly remember a night when she hadn’t woken up breathless.
Or gone to bed with a full stomach.

She was dusting the mat when he walked in again.
He smelt of alcohol. His clothes were paan stained. His trademark half smoked cigarette was in place.
She realized with panic that they were alone in the huge factory compound.
The man approached her with a snort of sorts and smiled to show stained teeth.
She thought of seeking help from the night watchman at the factory.
Only to realize it was him.

He walks up to her and mumbles a sweet nothing.
She walks back towards the corner.
He steps forward. Yanking off his lungi.
She screams. He laughs.
She tries to lunge out at him.
He gropes her and throws her back.
Not before she has scratched his face.

He lets out a yelp.
And shoving the lungi aside with his foot, he marches forward.
As he approaches her, he picks out the cigarette from his mouth and throws it aside.
She lets out a loud scream and closes her eyes.
She is taken aback.
There is light everywhere.
It is no longer dark. And the man has vanished too.
She is safe. She is alone. She is warm.
In the safety of her solitude, at last she feels like a princess.

In a far away land, the king summons another craftsman.
Another gift is commissioned.
What the princess wants, the princess gets.
And indeed she does, a box of her favorites. The biggest. The loudest.
The king presented it to her with a mock bow, and said “Happy Diwali”
She laughed. Laughed in delight.

From : www.harjeekapur.blogspot.com

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