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                                 A busy street of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi                                                                                          Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

My fiction A girl was born under the theme Yesterday Today Tomorrow for #BlogChatterA2Z.

She was born 2.2 kgs. Her mother had put on so much weight during her pregnancy, that everyone was expecting a chubby infant. But, she was very small – mouse-like. No wonder, the doctor who delivered her called her ‘chuhiya’ (meaning mouse). Thankfully, her family decided not to play along. Her mother named her ‘Tara’.

Tara was a tigress. Supple, bold and fearless. At 5 years, she was the leader of the neighbourhood child gang. Everyone knew her, from the milkman to the grocer.

Living in the old part of Delhi had its perks. They just had to scale a low wall to find themselves in another house. If she didn’t like the food that her mother had prepared, she would hop to her neighbours’ to find out what they were eating.

She accompanied her grandmother to the terrace where they offered water to the Sun God and millet to the hovering pigeons. Her grandmother chatted with the neighbours who were drying papads or clothes, while she played with the kids.

She stood in the verandah for hours and observed the bustling life of the lane below. The peddle rickshawwala was ferrying school kids. Two well-built men were pulling a hand cart piled with boxes. A tired man was sitting on the steps near the temple and wiping off the sweat with his gamchha (towel). A buxom woman in a pretty pink sari with a shopping bag in one hand was trying unsuccessfully to avoid the filth on the road sticking to her sari.

The gajjak-maker had a huge ball of caramel in his hand which he hung on the big nail on the wall. He pulled the ball of caramel towards him and again hung it on the nail. She started counting the number of times he stretched the caramel and put it back on the nail, but she knew numbers only till 18.

If she felt like eating sweets, she would just climb down the stairs and cross the narrow street to the gajjak shop and ask for some freshly made gajjak.

“Khate mein likh dena!,” (Write down in the monthly account register) she said as she had often heard her grandfather saying.

In the evening, a chatwala into the gully. All the women milled around him.

“Give me 1 aloo chat!” One woman shouted.

“Give me some more meethi chutney!” Another one asked.

“Your water’s not as tangy as always. Maybe you didn’t put enough lemon!” The third one suggested. The poor guy didn’t utter a word. He just nodded his head.

Her mother never went down to eat chat. Her grandmother didn’t like that. It was improper for the women of their family to be seen eating chat in the gully. So, she sent their servant instead to get chat for her. Tara accompanied him many a times. The chatwala always gave her one puri to eat.

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