Roosters crowing at dawn and the glimmering rays of yellow bright light were her morning alarm. She would roll her bed sheet in the pillow and rush down the stairs to begin a new day. She met her morning friends, the cows in the stalls bedded with straws. By the time, she milked seven cows, the cawing of the crows and the barks of the stray dogs reminded her to rush back to the kitchen.
“Veera! You are again late. Get dry dung and firewood from the barn. The furnace isn’t lit yet. Keep the milk for boil, knead the dough.” By the time she completes the chores, another task is ready. Nodding meekly is the only communication from her side. At the age of twelve, she behaves like an old lady of seventy. Head covered with a cotton dupatta, wearing a full-sleeved shirt, this orphan girl was adopted by the joint family of landlords. She was told that her father died in a road accident and mother eloped with a truck driver. At the mercy of Darbara’s family, she had a shelter to sleep. Indebted to their kindness, she had a name, Veera to call her own, else nothing she owed.
During the summer break, the cousins would come to Darbara’s house to spend a month. They would have a gala time eating, sleeping playing and watching movies. “Veera, where are you? Bring our carom, clean the board, switch on the T.V.” She would readily do what the cousins aged ten to sixteen would tell her. Raghav once asked her to join the game of cards. As a log, she stood still as she never expected to be treated like this. It was the first time in her life that she sat with children of her age and played. Preeta, the youngest of the cousins was bitterly crying as she had lost the game. Raghav commanded Veera to lose the game to make Preeta happy. Veera stood willingly to be a flop to please the children. Whereas the children of her age amused themselves, her only source of recreation was gazing at the stars while lying on the terrace. She would talk to herself for hours at night.
As the clock keeps ticking, Veera stepped into her youth. Her round face looked mature, her eye-catching physical appearance became bothersome for the elders of the family. Whereas children of the family got admissions in Universities for higher education and were away in the city, Veera was the only girl among the elders. From a.m. to nightfall, she would run to complete all the chores.
“Veera, Veera, why are you not replying? Where have you gone?” Darbara’s wife was alarmed in the early hours of the day when Veera wasn’t found either on the terrace or in the shed milking the cows. She charged the servants of the house to search for her. Veera was on the tube-wells with the Village headman’s son. She was brought back home, flogged, lashed and locked in a room. In the evening, Darbara went to meet the Headman. Darbara was apprised to get rid of the girl soon.
In a fortnight, she was married off to a sixty- year old widower. Welcomed by three stepdaughters, she stepped into a new life, never interrogated her identity or errors.