“They walked in the sweltering heat, the two sisters and Namita, the elder one’s best friend. Backs bent with the weight of the khaki coloured bags..the rectangular ones with two shiny clips that had to go ‘tak’ and ‘tak’ again, so you knew they were properly closed. Feet clumsily covered in battered chappals, dragging on the dusty road. Hair that had been carefully oiled and plaited by their mothers in the morning, complete with the red ribbon on both sides, now stuck to their scalps as sweat trickled down their faces. Little Rano walked ahead with a steadfast determination, her sister’s hand in hers. Pulling her, goading her to walk faster, they were almost there. Sunaina sighed and carried on, she could never refuse her baby sister. They finally reached and Rano looked at her big sister expectantly. Sunaina dug out her treasure from her bag, 20p that she had managed to save that week. She placed a 10p coin into the wrinkly hand of the shopkeeper and received a grunt in approval. Carefully she lowered the big glass jar and held it tight against her chest. With her free hand she twisted the cap open and counted out 10 candies, some red, some green, some orange and some purple. 1,2,3…9,10, placing each one gently into Rano’s cupped palms. Rano’s round face broke into a smile and her eyes gleamed with joy. Sunaina laughed as her sister struggled to wipe the drool off her mouth, her hands full of candies. With Rano satisfied, she went on to buy sweetmeats for Namita and her four other siblings waiting back home. That was the norm, all 6 brothers and sisters would sit down in a circle and Sunaina split the candies among them all. Happiness was to be shared, their mother had told her eldest daughter and Sunaina intended to take that very seriously. Rano skipped ahead, eager to reach home and gobble up her share. Come fast Sunaina, walk fast Sunaina…”
“Sunaina?…Sunaina?” She broke out of her reverie. The doctor was talking to her. “You can see her now”. Sunaina nodded at the others and they headed for the room. The same round face, she thought with a smile. But the eyes glistened with tears of pain now and the smile was forced. She looked at Rano lying on the bed, with its white covers, tubes coming out of the bedsheets, recovering after the 4th surgery that year. The disease was catching up and Sunaina knew in her heart that no candy could make her sister’s eyes gleam now. They all sat down in that hospital room. Sunaina and her 4 siblings, around Rano. All 6 of them. All they knew was to share…candies, tears, stories, fears…all they could do, was share.
//This story is dedicated to my Late Aunt Smt. Suchitra Ray…you are forever in our hearts Ranu Mausi 🙂