She stood at the Tram station. The oldest charm of Kolkata moved slowly, transporting people to their destinations. Very few were still interested in trams. This was the time of speed and shine, where those slow moving track-bound structures fitted no longer in the regular lifestyles. She turned to look at other chubby girls eating ice cream and rosogullas, licking the syrups off their fat fingers. Their mother’s clutched huge bags filled to the bursting point with clothes purchased from various shops. Durga Pujo is the occasion to splurge, no doubt. Those bags probably contained countless frocks and saris.
As she thought about these meaningless analogies, her stomach rumbled. She wondered where her mother was. Interrupting her thoughts, a hand reached out to her, with a pretty blue bag. The lady said, “This is for you; a gift for Durga puja this year.” Before she could react, the lady walked ahead of the tram and was soon lost in the crowd. She opened the mouth of the bag. It was filled with still warm samosas, a fluffy white frock and matching shoes.
Unsure of what these all meant, she waited again, tired and hungry. A familiar call after some half an hour made her look up.
Oh, there her mother was! She was waddling towards her now. “Rhittika, hold this, I have a gift for your dad too.”
She opened the packet with her little hands. It was a watch, two shirts and a pair of pants.
“Can we afford these?” Rhittika asked.
“Yes baby,” the mother assured. “I saved for this day.” She brought out a small jewelry pouch tied in the loose end of her sari. “And this is yours.”
There were two perfectly round diamonds. She hugged her mother dearly. She brought out her own packet and gave it to her mom, since she had already had her treat. Her mom grinned to look inside the packet, and then looked back at her with a frown. Suddenly suspicious, the mother asked “Who gave it to you?”
“A very friendly lady, look, there she is.” Rhittika pointed.
The lady had been watching them. The kind smiles on her face changed to hysterical cries. She pointed at Rhittika and shouted, “Thief, THIEF!!” Rhittika raised her arms above her head.
”I haven’t taken a thing.” She wailed, frightened and confused. “Not you, dear,” the nice lady assured, “It’s your mom. She has taken away quite a lot. What a crooked woman! Why don’t you ask her?” The lady’s screamed like a devil.
The mother sighed in despair. The police emerged from behind the crowd and grabbed her hands. Rhittika shrieked as they took her away.
The mother only looked back to say,“Go home, darling!!”