Once upon time on the streets of the old city of Mumbai there was a lady who uses to stroll on them daily, her fast-paced walk uses to slow down the wind and her every breath uses to cool the sun down. She was strong and independent, she was determined and new, everything she never had she dreamt about it and everything she will never have were already forgotten.
Her grit brought the city down, she was rising like the sun in the East and she had no chance of slowing down.
She was a bird but then she got married.
She was caged in the shackles of marriage and marital burden but her tale was not forgotten. To this day, the streets of Mumbai miss her stomping feet, the railways miss her sigh; she too didn’t forget her favorite city; she talked of Mumbai like it was the tale of yesterday, she looked at the pictures of Gateway of India with despair. She told her daughter what it meant by getting accepted by the city. All her in-laws use to roll their eyes but she uses to ignore them and continue with her rattle about the streets.
Years later of marriage, she was pregnant with her second child; her first child already being daughter had her under pressure that if this child is also a female she will be reduced to nothing by her family members. Her mother-in-law started the preparation for her grandchild and all the aunties were invited to the house for the party. Grandmother knew that her grandchild will be grand, will be a son.
The day arrived the lady washed all the utensils, washed the clothes, did not let that swollen belly come in between while she cleaned the floors, she packed her bag and got ready to deliver the bundle of happiness, happiness to her and her family.
The dad was busy with the office he did not come; grandmother had her favorite daily soap on she didn’t come; the sister didn’t even know what was going on she didn’t come; the aunts were chilling with their friend they didn’t even know the date arrived.
The strong lady knew how to manage; the streets of Mumbai had thought her each bit of lesson, took exams and then passed her. No tear escaped her eyes, she prayed to her God, got out of the house, the neighbors were looking at her wondering why is she leaving alone, she did not dare to look up. She sat on a rickshaw and then she was off to the hospital; she knew today her love will arrive, all through the way she was smiling, she is going to meet her beloved today, the beloved who was with her all these nine and half months but today she actually hold the being.
The hospital was not too prosperous it was all the dad could afford. In the public hall, she was given a bed by the nurse and she was left alone to bear the pain of labor. Now was the time to cry, finally, she will weep her misery out but she did not she remembered the time in Mumbai when she wept in a station and people took her as a timid little girl who is not what the city had thought her she was better than that.
When she wanted anyone just anyone to arrive, one did: the pain. The pain came just on time, just in time to justify her weeping, she cried with pain and the labor started after almost three hours of pain, loneliness and doctor’s shouts she delivered her bundle of happiness the bundle was crying in the hands of the doctor she was too weak to look up but she wanted to hold that bundle wanted to empathize with it but she was too weak.
The doctor smiled and said congratulations it is a… the lady held her breath… girl. The lady had her entire future laid in front of her: all the taunts, all the eye rolls, and all the pressure to take this pain again, she was in a haze but then she looked closely and saw two beautiful black eyes looking back at her, little fingers trying to grasp her one finger.
There it was her bundle of joy, her entire happiness she looked at her: how beautiful her eyes were, how little her feet were, how light she was, how perfectly she fit in her arms. The ecstasy was broken when the doctor shouted at her to go to that hall to that little bed; she did holding her little ‘second daughter’ in her hands crying.
When she reached the hall, she waited yet again with her weak might and wailing ‘second daughter’, she was alone she wanted some support, the family was expecting a son and so they will be here anytime with all the fruits and treats she craved but she did the worse thing she could’ve done at that time, without thinking for a second she called her family (she still regret that call daily) she walked to the PCO and called, the grandmother picked the phone she waited for the good news, on the other line: she waited to tell, then she said ‘second daughter’. The grandmother expected tears of regret and sadness but what sound like was a smile of pride, without saying anything she hung up the phone the woman expected it all but again she wasn’t sad, why would she? Coming back to the hall she remembered the time she had University gates closed on her face and she stood there in the rain; she was alone that time but the wet streets of Mumbai told her: yes the world cannot see your tears but you will not cry, I dare you to cry and every time she spilled one tear the thunder raged she learnt her lesson there: the lesson of tolerance.
She came back ate a Parle biscuit and drank tea waited again for the dad but he did not come somehow the news of ‘second daughter’ spread like wildfire and nobody came to her rescue.
She came home and thrived, she thrived like a winner who won a gold medal she smiled with pride with her ‘second daughter’ in her arms.
In the future, when whole family made fun of the second daughter’s dark complexion she taught her the lesson of the streets of Mumbai, when her second daughter failed in Math she taught her the lesson of streets of Mumbai and when the second daughter will grow up into a dreamer she will teach her the lessons of the streets of Mumbai.
Later, the second daughter will scribble the anecdote of her birth on a paper and put the story in front of the world:
The lessons of The Streets of Mumbai