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Updated: 24 hours ago

Cover Photo by Pankaj Tottada

16th January, 2013

Dear Diary,

Today was no different from any other day. As usual, mom had a huge fight with dad. She shouted at him and dad refrained. The superman toy that dad gifted me as my birthday present was broken into pieces by mom in her rage. I had no courage to intervene in their blatant conversation. If I did, mom would either slap me or maim me like she had done the last time when dad got me a lavish beverage. Hence, I went to school with a hard smile; a sham, once again.

During the morning assembly, I was called on to the stage. Principal ma'am, my teachers, and all the students sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for me. I turned fourteen today but mom even forgot to wish me. My friends asked me, what time I’d cut my birthday cake that evening at the party. They also wanted to know what special I brought for lunch. In reality, it was no different from most days. Mom just packed chapatis with mango pickle. She was in a hurry to go to her job. I'm often reminded of how strict her boss is and at times, she had to work night shifts too.

When I returned home without mentioning anything about my birthday party to my friends, I could see dad was cooking. He mentioned that mom was busy and would arrive late at night. As we ate dinner, dad mentioned how he was sorry about my birthday gift being broken in their argument.

I stayed silent as he also informed me how one of his friends has seen mom on the road. Not wanting to listen to anything else, I just walked to my room to sleep. I can’t believe that my mother cannot even remember when I was born. I don't know why she is always angry and is restlessly working. I'm glad God gave me a wonderful dad who talks to me, gets me gifts and loves me too.

- Chirag


16th January, 2013

Dear Diary,

Today is Chirag’s birthday. I didn’t wish him. How could I? On the very morning of his birthday, his father ended up doing something utterly silly. A part of the amount that I saved to pay his school fees was invested by him in a useless toy. Marrying that man was the biggest mistake I have ever made. Chirag has no idea that he’ll soon be out of his school. The little money that I earn turns out to become an investment in this man’s whiskey bottles.

Soon, that would have to end and he wouldn’t be spared. When Chirag would understand reality and this man's emotional blackmail of taking him away from me, I will punish him.

I should have struck him when he proudly mentioned offering Chirag a sip of his drink while I was working. When I punish Chirag while teaching him the dos and the don’ts he always misunderstands my intentions.

God! We have no money left. That monster gambles and burns my money while buying himself an early grave. All I ever wanted was to raise Chirag in a good environment but I couldn't even give him a good family. However, I will surely give him a good education even if I have to work double-time.

But with my growing age, I attract a few customers now. The pimp that I met today also deducted my pay because I couldn’t reach her on time excluding his complaint about my looks. Yesterday, an old customer caught a glimpse of me on the road and started shouting my work name.

I just hope my problems are solved before Chirag gets to know about any of this. I wish, I stayed home on Chirag's birthday but I had to rush to the hospital, for another abortion.

I just wish my son lived in the image I built about myself. He is too young to face the sullen realities of life. I’ll be strict with him and will never let him become someone like his monstrous father.

- Rani.



This contribution is edited by Sreekar Ayyagari & Tarun Chintam & photographed by Pankaj Tottada.



This flash fiction is also available in paperback & ebook.

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