A Lesser told puja story
At four in the afternoon, Parvati puts on a hint of kaajal, her cleanest saree, flings her stick on her shoulder and goes off to work. She walks ten blocks to the pandals from her home, because no rickshaw will take her.. mostly because on most days she can’t afford it.
At six, Parvati reaches her spot by the main entrance of the biggest Puja in the city. She stands underneath the gulmohar tree, between the Fuchka and the Pav bhaji wala, her inflated Doraemons and Mickey Mouses floating above her like her guardian angels.
She starts off with 50 bucks. When the person starts to walk away, she scampers behind them and agrees on 20. The little kids in their mother’s arms or their father’s shoulders are always her biggest fan. They raise their tiny hands towards her, glittery eyes as big as the balloons…wanting 1..no.. all of them. 1 out of ten times, the parents obliged the kid with one. most times, they promise a ‘later’ and takes their kid away. Parvati watches them go, sometimes rebellious, teary-eyed, sometimes distracted by shinier things. Her heart breaks, watching the happiness on their faces fall like dry leaves at her feet. she wishes she could give away all her fare to every kid that comes to her. for free. but she knows she can’t.
The security comes barging out sometimes. They show her away with the rest of the hawkers, sometimes with their sticks, sometimes with their hands. Their hands fall in places on her bare skin, which makes Parvati sick in the guts. At times she feels like whipping out the little blade she carries in her purse and slashing their fingers off. But she knows she can’t. Instead, she puts on her brightest smile and makes sure it never leaves her face.
The rich men and women come and go in their big cars. Big cars with English names she can’t read. They laugh and say things in English that she doesn’t understand. They have skin like porcelain and the clothes that they wear look like they were tailored in heaven. Parvati watches awestruck, trying to figure out how this could be. She too was born with two eyes, two hands, and one beating heart. She works thrice as harder than they possibly ever do. then why are they all up there, elevated by big boots and high heels while she’s down here bare feet on the streets? Her illiterate brain can’t seem to grasp this.
She haggles with them, begs them to buy her balloons. They brush her off, without paying a second glance, complaining about the heat. Parvati laughs as they fret and fuss unhappily with their suits and sarees. Such tender, vulnerable little human beings, she thinks.
Late in the night, when the crowd has gone back home in their big cars, washed off the makeup and gone off to sleep, Parvati heads home. She walks ten kilometers to the Dharavi she lives in, after standing on her feet all day, counting her earnings. Most of her balloons sold off, she now has five hundred seventy-three. Five hundred more, she can fix the leaking roof of her jhopri, make chicken biryani for the family and buy that blue Kurta for her little Ganesh, the one he has been begging to wear on his seventh birthday this week.
credit- The Engineer Bro
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