By Srishti Singh:

Rajni is a regular eleven year old domestic help. Below is an excerpt from her diary:

Girl Child

“Aunty made Matar Paneer today. Baba wasn’t hungry,so I got his share too. I burped,I think that means I had more than I was supposed to. Now I just have to do the dishes, wash Baba’s school uniform and I’m free for the rest of the day.

There is some function at Uncle’s office,so they’re all going there in the evening. I can go back early, aunty smiled and told me. I’m not sure if its really something to be happy about. She has even cancelled the tuition she gives me and the other kids in the evening. Aaargghh…stupid function!

Uncle and aunty watch TV a lot. News channels,I guess that’s what it is called.These days I hear the name Amanat quite often. When asked, aunty explained that some monsters did bad things to her and killed her.

They show roads filled with lots of ‘didis’ and ‘bhaiyyas’ shouting something at the TV. Uncle says they’re protesting.They want the monsters to be killed. Aunty explains that if the monsters aren’t punished severely,other monsters will do more mean stuff. Nani was right about ‘rakshasas’, I guess.

Enough of random talks. Aunty says I do ‘chapar chapar’ a lot. Its time for me to pack my bag and head home. Ughh, abba and chacha are both home.They won’t let me sleep before midnight. Wish there was a way to talk them out of ‘the ritual’ tonight.I’m really tired.

‘The ritual’ is something men and women do, for the good of the family. Amma died when I was five, since then it has been my responsibility to make sure the ritual is performed at least four times a week. Chacha says,when I hit something called puberty, I’ll be exempted from it every fourth week.

I think abba is drunk again. He stinks,yuck! It hurts more than usual today. If only someone could tell me how to hit puberty. I’d ask Aunty. She’s so sweet, almost like my mother. But abba and chacha warned me not to tell anybody about the ritual or bad things might happen. Probably that’s how amma died. I don’t wanna die. I love spending time at aunty’s place and playing with the kids after tuition.”

Marches and protests. Debates and discussions. We’ve done our part for the Amanat who asked. It’s now time for the one who didn’t.

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