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The Hidden Gem - Part 1

CHAPTER I

LAKSHMI

Her hair tied in an untidy bun, her pink suit full of little green patterns, her white chunni hanging on one shoulder and her almost-empty purse on the other, she set off from the fields to her little hut, which she called home.

Her name was Lakshmi. She adored reading and she loved to learn more than anything else! She had almost equal opportunities to study compared to you. But, as it happens in all stories and in real life, there was a very big issue. 

Her family was quite poor and no one in her household encouraged her to study, even though there was a free government school and a public library in the village. She learnt how to read from her friend, Ram, who went to school and would teach her reading, writing and many more things. He would tell the little girl all about school and her eyes would light up with joy & fascination. Every day, she would first go to the fields to work and then do the household chores. Once, when she asked about going to school, her father scolded her and said, “A school is no place for a girl. What will you get from learning all that when you must clean the floor and dust the shelves all your life?”

“A-and what about books?”

“Books? BOOKS? We don’t have money for good clothes, and you want to waste it on books?”

“But p-”

“I don’t want to hear it. Be quiet and go to sleep.” he shouted.

“But the li-”

Her father, in a rage, slapped her.

Suddenly, the seven people in the house – Lakshmi, her brother, her sisters, their father, mother, and the milkman who was at the door - were quiet, until she started crying softly.

“Not a word from you now!”

Her mother just said, “Listen to your father and take care of your brothers and sisters.”

She was a jolly, adventurous girl of eleven, eager to learn, and loved chatting to her friends and siblings. 

The next day, she went to meet Ram, at the big guava tree near her house. They would climb the thick, brown, branches, eat a guava or two and chatter away! That day, Ram told her about his favourite subject of all, mathematics. In about two hours, she learnt the number system and how to add small numbers. Every day, she went to the other road and called out to Ram, who got off from a tree and taught her. 

Lakshmi’s mother, Gita, was fond of her and loved her the most out of four children. That day, she went to the big town nearby, and worked in people’s homes. She earned some money and clutched the notes given to her by an elderly woman tightly, as if the wind would take them away. She paced to the bookshop, her anklets clinkering and her hair swaying in the warm air. The owner was about to close the shutter when she told him she would not take much time. Gita took a copy of the Ramayana and raced home. She expected her husband to ask her whereabouts, so she ran at top speed until, at last, she reached her house.

Indeed, the one whom she presumed was waiting at the door. 


CHAPTER II

BOOKS

Where have you been, Gita? You did not even cook dinner. And why are you sweaty? Were you running away?” interrogated Lakshmi’s father.

“I-I went to get vegetables but the sabjiwala was not there.”

“What’s in your bag then?” he questioned, looking inside the bag. “Oho! Books, is it?”

“Yes, books.” she answered, closing the bag “Religious books for the- the mandir. We have a puja on S-Sunday. Yes, uh, Sunday. Be there.”

And so, the conversation ended. Looking at her suspiciously, he went to the barber’s to get a haircut. Gita went to Lakshmi and whispered, “Apke liye. (For you)” The girl’s face lit up as she hugged her mother joyfully and giggled softly.

She hid the book in her bag, so her father could not see it. She quietly opened the bag so that her brother and sisters, who were taking a nap, would not wake up. Opening the zip, she secured the book inside and closed it. Her big brother, Shiv, and one of her sisters woke up after that and asked, “What was that?”

“A wonderful book, bhaiya. We can read it together tomorrow.” As she sat down on the floor, she thought about the new book and how exciting it would be. She was grateful to her mom, and thanked God for giving her such a wonderful mother.

The next day, she again sat with Ram and her sister to revise. 

“If I have six mangoes, and you take two, what would I get?” asked Ram.

“A scolding for eating so many mangoes.” Lakshmi joked. “Four”

“Okay, fine. If I have seven rupees and I give you five, how much money is left with me?”

“Two rupees.”

Soon, she answered many questions and Ram went back home while Lakshmi and her sister went to the fields. 
(to be continued...)

 

For part 2 click here

I also seek your guidance on how to improve my writing skills. You may share your suggestions and comments below.

More By  :  Aanvi Bamba

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Comments on this Blog

Comment This story is soo interesting and well written Aanvi can’t wait to read the next part !
Waiting ..

Bhawna Dawer
07-Jul-2024 02:23 AM

Comment Part 2 jaldi pls ..

Sandeep Dawer
06-Jul-2024 15:14 PM






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