“Gouri! Make us tea, the guests are waiting”, dad shouted from the living room as mom was mopping the floor in the kitchen with her injured back. I glanced at the clock that hung over the arched doorway of our kitchen. It was 11:00 o’ clock in the morning; the weather was rainy which made my mood gloomy. I couldn’t bear to see my mom doing all the work all the time. Not only was she injured but sick as well. While she was taking out the tea pan from the cupboard, I immediately stopped her and brought her to the bedroom to rest. As usual, my dad’s friends came over to do their business which was gambling.

He gambled away all his life’s savings including our farm and our old house. The only thing he had left was his family and very little money, just enough to survive. “Gouri! We are waiting for the damn tea, what’s taking you so long? ” dad bawled once again. Mom got up and rushed into the kitchen, “Where is Arjun when we need him? You can’t serve tea like this showing so much skin in front of all those spiteful gamblers”, mom said tensely.

I grabbed my mom’s hand and took her back to her room, “I’ve had enough, I’m going to go serve the damn tea and come back, and you get back to resting! You definitely need lots of rest “.I hurried out of the bedroom with the tray and down the front hall, pausing just long enough to check my reflection and covered up quickly with my salwar. Dad heard the sound of my foot steps and turned, his scowl changing immediately to a fake smile. Dad hurriedly came towards me and pulled me closer, “Pooja, for god’s sakes why are you here front of my friends not dressed appropriately, you could have just sent Arjun”. While I was mentioning about Arjun, my dad’s friend Mr. Das shot me a quick glance and winked.

He was a tall old man, with a long beard and curly black hair dressed up in white kurta pajama.He had a massive amount of freckles on his face. Mr. Das was the richest gambler of all. He was almost as old as my dad and yet had no family. He was known as the “man” in the village of Kashmir and everybody feared him.

As soon as I saw his evil smirk, I stepped back and stood behind the door listening to their conversation. Dad started serving the tea to everyone and they all went back to playing cards. For a good three minutes they were making deals, laughing and discussing their agreements. All of a sudden, Mr Das took a loud sip of his tea and interrupted, “Your daughter is very stunning, have you thought about her marriage?” I was stunned, I didn’t know what I’d been expecting, but that was not it. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to even think about Pooja’s marriage until Arjun gets a job, besides who will marry her when we are in this condition”, said Dad miserably as he was putting away his cards. Mr.

Das put away his cup of tea as he chuckled, “Ah, not to worry! Listen to this, how about I make you a deal! Let’s just say I find a man that is just as rich as me and that way she will have a great life. It also benefits the rest of your family”. I collapsed against the wall behind me like a marionette whose strings had just been clipped.”What a great honour you have given us.

I don’t know how I will ever repay you! ” dad said very anxiously. Mr Das went towards my dad and gave him a hug. I still didn’t know which man he was referring to but I definitely didn’t have a good feeling about this. I put my ears as close to the door as possible trying to listen to every single word.

“I was talking about myself, I know you will have second thoughts, but think very carefully” said Mr. Das as he was putting his shoes on. I couldn’t believe what I heard, the most unexpected news from my very own ears.As my initial shock and surprise wore off, a new feeling rose to take its place: anger. Pure, boiling, righteous fury. All I heard was my dad yelling fiercely to Mr. Das,”I can’t believe you’d say such a thing, get out of my house! I’d rather starve to death than let my daughter marry a man like you! ” I ran up to my room pretending like I never heard anything.

I felt my fists clenching involuntarily at my sides. The anger was coursing through me more strongly than ever, hot and bubbling. My dad stormed to the bedroom and shut the door hard. The dinner hour rolled around by the time Arjun came up to my room to check up on me.


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