She was lost.
Pooja had taken her along to the ration shop. She was two and her sister Pooja all of ten. They had been standing in the question for half an hour. It was mid noon and the sweltering heat was unbearable. There was a reason they had been sent at this time. Their mother was good to them but her little brother was unwell. Noon was the time when the queue was the shortest.
They were there at last. Her sister passed the ration card but the shop assistant said that he couldn’t issue sugar and rice rations because there was no stock left. All that he could give was the five kilo allowance of stone fortified wheat. Pooja could see the sacs of wheat and rice behind them but all she could do was plead.
Pooja avoided the lecherous eyes boring her from the tip of her head to the bottom of her chappal clad toes. Keeping her voice low but firm, she requested her due. Unnerved by her disposition, which was far beyond the capacity of a ten or twelve year old, the freak gave her the full measure.
Pooja paid and turned to hold her cousin’s hand.
She was to little to understand why the shop owner was shouting at her sister but she was our enough to experience the unpleasantness of it all. She tried to shut it all off.
Then she saw them. Beautiful red globes flying in the air. They were floating them and she drifted with them as they drifted away, entranced by the beauty, knowing not where she was going.
Pooja screamed and yelled and ran around the walls of the remand home, desperately trying to locate her lost little sister. She was just over two and very trusting. The place where they lived was run by gang lords……not a safe place to get lost.
She finally mustered up the courage to take her aching feet and swollen red eyes to her mother