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Milk and Salt | Ananya Guha Majumder

The marriage was called off. Sefali’s marriage had been fixed with the village Pradhan’s son, Heera, but now they have backed off. Sefali’s father tried to persuade them by offering more than the promised dowry but all in vain. In no way they could accept a girl with white patches on her face as their son’s bride. Even the allure of a brand new sedan did not work. These new white patches on Sefali’s skin has changed her life drastically.

Sefali locked the door and sat quitely in her room. Just outside, in the living room, her mother sat crying, cursing her fate. Sefali could hear her howl, “Why, why why? Why us?”. The neighbourhood women had come to console her. Sefali heard someone ask, “Malti, did you ever give your daughter milk with salt?”

“This is that jealous bitch’s work. She must have done some black magic” another voice claimed. “Heera had rejected that bitch’s daughter, that kali kaluti Neha, I am sure she must have mixed something in the food, otherwise how is it one else in the family has such a condition..”

Frustrated, Sefali started tearing off the magazine cut-outs of actors, celebrity weddings, and lehenga designs which she had pasted on the wall. Next to them, there’s a mirror which has been covered with a dupatta. While furiously trying to remove a stubborn poster , her hand hit the mirror and the dupatta slid off. Her eyes fell onto the mirror. A girl in an orange top, with undone curls till her waist, red teary eyes, and a big white patch next to her thin lips stared back at her. In a second, she dropped her eyes.

She turned back and headed towards her bed. She remembers every moment vividly, like it was yesterday. Heera Ji had sneaked into her room through the balcony. He sat on this bed and whispered hoarsely, “Lock the door. I’ll stay”. She locked the door and stood coyly at the corner of the bed. Heera ji had pulled her hand, making her sit infront of him. He took her hand in his, caressed her palm with his finger. These flashbacks made her face flush dark, her lashes fluttered shut. That night Heera showered his love on her, he told her how her gleamy dusky skin reminds him of a summer evening sky and her giggle feels like a cool breeze. Looking into her big, dark, kohl smudged eyes, he had confessed his love.

Tears rolled down Sefali’s eyes. “You lied Heera Ji...” she sobbed.

For several months, her life had revolved around Heera and their wedding. From her mehendi design to her sangeet performance, she had planned everything. She had so many dreams. They have all wrecked in a blink.

Ananya Guha Majumder

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