”Rajni, come here fast,look who has come to stay with us”,said Mrs. Dasgupta.Soon after a girl of 16, in her crop top and denim shorts entered the lavish dining hall with her ear phones on and a fashion magazine in hand. Rajni is in her high school pursuing humanities, and is a modern girl with metropolitan attributes. She is a smart and bright student who aspires to become a fashion designer.“Mom,what is the matter,why yelling out my name?”, asked Rajni. Soon after she finishes her words, her eyes went straight on to a little girl in shabby clothes. She had a tired face with weepy eyes. Mrs dasgupta said, “Come Rajni meet your new sister ,Saraswati. She will stay with us from now and help me in household chores.” Rajni smiled at her and beckoned her to come closer. Little Saraswati was uncomfortable in her new environment. She missed the familiar faces which surrounded her till the last evening. She wanted to sob bitterly as she missed her mother. She was barely 14, who was alone without her family to a new work place, her first work place. Rajni held her hand and pulled her closer, she was excited to have a new girl at home and reckoned all her boredom would be over chatting with Saraswati. She wanted to take her to the bedroom and sleep beside her. Mrs Dasgupta intervened and asked Saraswati to make her bed in the dining floor itself because she thinks that Rajni should do her night time studies properly. Rajni was annoyed but she was shunned by her mother.Soon Mr. Dasgupta came back from office. He is a general manager in TCS who is a middle-aged man and earns a handsome amount of annual package. Recently he has shifted to his newly purchased 4 Bhk apartment in New Town,(a very posh locality in Kolkata).” Anita,(Mrs Dasgupta)! Oh Saraswati has already arrived? Good, did you remember to pay Mahesh the 1st month’s salary for his daughter’s work?”, enquired Mr Dasgupta. “Yes, ofcourse I did pay him. Mahesh said he would visit again a couple of months later, anyway dinner is served, come to the table.”, said Mrs Dasgupta.
Meanwhile, Rajni had started a conversation with Saraswati. She was asking her about her school and in which class she read. Saraswati replied that she attended school till 2nd standard and then her education was stopped by her father. Rajni was startled to know this and explained her that education is important. Suddenly she was called by her mom for dinner. She took Saraswati to the dining table and asked her to sit beside her father and have food.Mrs dasgupta stopped her and placed a plate of stale chapatis and noon’s leftover vegetable curry in Saraswati’s hands and asked her to sit on the mat and finish the dinner. A curious Rajni asked her mom why she gave her stale food to eat when all of them would be having freshly made fried rice and paneer. Also why she couldn’t sit in the dining table. Her mom said, “One must not waste food, it’s a disgrace to God and is considered a sin. Moreover Saraswati is from the rural side, she wouldn’t like fried rice anyway! Also she is neither used to dining tables, she would feel comfortable squatting on thr floor mat.” Post dinner Saraswati cleaned the utensils and mopped the table with great difficulty, her tiny hands were not used to these works. Back in her village home, her mother used to do all the household chores and had never let her work. Mrs. Dasgupta appreciated her work and said she was a good cleaner, but also added that she needs to do it more swiftly because she would have a lot to do from the next morning. The Dasgupta family then waved her ‘goodnight’ and went to their rooms. Saraswati arranged her bed with the given old and torn mattress and slept on the floor. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
What awaits in Saraswati’s life? Will she ever live a better life ? Is she just a servant hired for work? Shall be revealed in the consecutive parts.