Gifts were very rare for little Mosi. The most precious gift that life offered was a good square meal a day. If there was meal on their plate for all the members of the family, it was a day to rejoice. Both her parents were daily wage labourers. A coconut leaf thatched hut provided enough space for her four siblings, to cuddle together during rain or shine. Mosi was the third of the sisters. Every morning the children would wake up, bundled up here and there, screaming or giggling at their awkwardness.
Mosi is hardly six but had seen the world in abundance. She had been reared on the streets. Every ups and downs were just part of life. When she fell down and bruised herself, the utmost first aid or even the last aid was to spit on it. Saliva was suffice. She could not recall wearing a new dress. They had a common wardrobe. Anyone can help themselves with whichever fit them best. Oversized or undersized never bothered them much. A dress on their backs is all that mattered.
Today Mosi is wondering how lady luck had smiled at her. A new pair of slippers, brand new dresses and a bag too. This can’t be true, she told herself. Her sisters gave a quizzical smile and rushed off. Mosi, again wondered, “Why aren’t they bothered?” It’s puzzling by all means. She turned to her new frock and ran her fingers up and down. It was smooth and very sweet to smell. She spread it out with her little fingers on the cot littered with rags. She cocked her head hither and thither. And as though thunder stuck all of a sudden, she grabbed her dress off the cot. “What if it becomes dirty” she told herself. She continued to slide her fingers on the fabric, every now and then, trying to keep the sweet new fragrance of the dress within her.
Mosi looked around and saw her mother with a beaming smile. “No ma, I will not give give this to anyone” she said, hugging it tight to her chest. “You needn’t Mosi dear” replied her mother. “Who gave these?” she enquired. Her mother flashed a quick smile and said ” You will know tomorrow.” So saying she waved and left for work.
Mosi had colourful dreams that night. She was constantly giggling. When she woke up in the morning her sisters were standing around chuckling. Mosi had been showing all faces asleep, smiling and hugging her new dress. Their mother peeped and shooed them off and asked Mosi to have a bath. “But mother” she said, “I don’t often take a bath. Why today.” ” Hereafter, you will have to, everyday” added her mother.
Mosi got up. She scrubbed herself clean and in no time was dressed up in the new dress. Her mother oiled her brown suntanned hair as neatly as possible. When her sisters peeped in they were again squealing in amusement. Her younger sibling alone starred at her, wide eyed. Mosi felt uneasy. “Tell me ma. Why am I being dressed up? Are things alright?” the poor girl enquired.
Mosi’s mother stiffened a bit. She smiled. The smile had a million messages. “Mosi I have convinced your father to send you to school. It means you can wear good dresses. It means that you will learn new things. It means that you will be respected. It means that you can one day put an end to our misery.” So saying her mother started to cry. Mosi was speechless. She didn’t know that there was a life different than theirs. Her mother was saying things that sounded magical. She jumped from the cot to her mother and wrapped her tender arms around her weather torn neck. “Ma. This is amazing. I can make you happy ma. I can.” Mosi’s little sister still stared at her but seemed to know that something very good is about to happen. She too ran and hugged her sister. There was a strong smell of hope in the air!
Submitted By: P. Bala S. Devi
Place: Thoothukudi, Tamilnadu