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They lived in an old style haveli in an old part of the city.
The city was grey, the haveli was golden brown. It stood on a small lane, the two front steps leading right down to the road.
There was always a smell of dust in the air.
She lived with her old style parents, and aunts, and uncles, and grandparents, and cousins.
She had a brother, eight years younger, who everyone adored. And six cousins. She was the oldest.
She went to an old-fashioned school, where tired cranky nuns taught the girls to be young women, and spread the word of god.
She’d never met a boy who wasn’t a relative, near or distant. She felt incredibly shy even at the thought.
But she’d read about them.
At the old house the old re-done cement floors were always cool. She would find a quiet corner (not an easy task, i can assure you!) to sit and read. One book she loved was Eight Cousins. She could identify with Rose.
But she could never really read for long.
Today, a Sunday, school was off.
The smell of dust was still in the air, but it was damp.
Dark clouds covered the rectangle of sky over the courtyard.
It was afternoon, almost everyone was asleep.
She was sitting in on the parapet, feeling the breeze stroke softly at her cheek, the feel of her dupatta tugging gently at her shoulder.
A few drops fell, then a few more, and then the shower began.
She rose hurriedly to get under the chajja, escape the rain. But something held her back.
She was already soaked through… why not…
Nobody saw her in that one moment of escape. Nobody saw her dance.
Except a little eight year old boy.
And he kept her secret.