The festival was at its heights. The autumn months in India are full of festivities and you cannot wander the streets without the scent of the festive air. It was the Durga Puja and the goddess of strength had arrived on earth, travelling the path connecting the doors of heaven to the land of the devotees.
    It's considered a shame if you are a Bengali and don't enjoy the Durga Puja. Temporary structures called the Pandals were set up all around India. These were the main attractions during the festival. We call this the "pandal hopping". The main centre of these pandals is Kolkata, the busiest place during the Puja. Kolkata is a wonderful sight, but, a scary sight when you see the sea of people around you, eager to hop from one pandal to another. Accidents are largely common in this time of the year. So our family did the noble thing: we escaped to Durgapur, a place where the puja is celebrated with equal enthusiasm and where the atmosphere is thousand times calmer than Kolkata.
    Funnily enough, the thing that touched me the most wasn't even related to puja.
    I stayed with my cousin. On one such day of pandal hopping, my uncle decided to call all of his friends to come and meet in Chaturanga, a region in Durgapur. It was supposed to be a sort of get together and I was mighty mad at this because Durgapur is not really the place where I felt home if I didn't have my cousin to myself. But she was off talking to her friends, and my aunt and uncle talking to theirs. My cousin dragged me along wherever she went with her friends but the only people I felt closest to there were my parents. After I had come back from a round of the pandal there, I was annoyed to find that my parents had gone off without me. So I called them up and they had just come back from a tour around the Chaturanga park. I walked up to them and ranted about how I was hating it in here and how badly I wanted to go home.
    "Do you want some tea?" my dad suggested, noticing that each time I spoke, I coughed or sniffed a little.
    "Great idea," my mother replied, even though I didn't really want tea. There was a small fast food shop right opposite the Chaturanga Park and we went there. A man and a lady were working there. The lady was helping the man by providing him supplies while he was turning over omelettes on a pan and then making them into egg rolls. The lady greeted us with a smile.
    "Do you have tea?" dad enquired.
    "I am sorry, sir, we don't have tea, but we serve coffee," the lady said, her facial expressions changing according to her speech. She was apologetic at first, then her face brightened at the thought that she could at least offer us with something. We agreed to have coffee and she poured us three mugs. when I took hold of my mug, it was boiling hot. I tried to ignore the itching pain of my fingers and blew on my coffee gently. She must have noticed my discomfort because she at once came to my aid.
    "Why don't you sit and drink it up?" she offered. I was puzzled because all the chairs were occupied.
    "There," she said, pointing to a pair of sliding doors I had noticed but chose to ignore. "Go in. Sot and drink. There's no hurry."
    She smiled at us. My dad went up and opened the doors. I was so grateful I could hug the lady. I was wearing heels that day and due to lack of practice, my feet hurt a lot because of all the roaming around and waiting. I opened my heel sandals and stepped into the house. It was a tiny place with clothes hung in front. There were two cushioned chairs at the corner of the room as we just entered. There was just a refrigerator and the rest of the room was bare. However, behind the hanging clothes, there sat an old woman with a chopper, chopping onions and capsicum. I vaguely thought about these vegetables to be used in making egg rolls. She smiled at us as we entered. She was unaffected by the strong odour of the onions and it was a good thing too, otherwise, she would have put her fingers inside her eyes and that would have caused more irritation. We sat down on the chair at the farthest corner. The other one already occupied by someone else. She looked around twenty, her face pretty but concealed with a lot of makeup it seemed. She was wearing a pink off-shoulder top and denim shorts and was navigating her phone, largely ignoring us.
    My dad tried to get into a conversation with the old woman there, but it was clear she didn't want to engage herself in small talk. She busily chopped vegetables and politely responded to my father's enquiries about that little room being a clothes shop. The old woman replied affirmative, but I was seriously doubting it. Because if it was a shop, then having the young girl there seemed to destroy customer approvals. She seemed curt and vaguely irritated to have strangers there and ignore us to her maximum capability. She snapped at her mother, the one who had gently offered us to sit in her house, when she asked her to bring her some supplies. 
    I don't really know what flared up inside me at that moment. Maybe it was the hard work of the family to earn through whatever means possible. Maybe it was the girl, heavily dressed up like waiting for a party to call her. Maybe it was the way I noticed how simply and decently the rest of the family was dressed up but they had gotten expensive clothes for the girl because they cared and loved her and didn't want her miserable. I almost pictured her throwing tantrums at her mom and dad, telling them to get her the things she wanted as she didn't want to look like she belonged to the lower middle - CLASS. And, despite everything, the young lady acted like an ungrateful and unhelpful daughter, who was too busy going through her Facebook updates to bother with helping her kind mother. I simply stared at the girl, her grandmother, who was wiping off tears by now, maybe from the onions, maybe not.
    My cousin called me after I was done with my coffee. She seemed worried. I returned to her company shortly after, but my mind was still on the little family serving food just opposite the Chaturanga field. I felt like sharing the event. I don't know why, or how it might influence anyone who read this. To be fair, I am not sure what I should realize through thus event. Maybe, its that that I don't want to be that girl, ever,


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