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I have slowly got used to the city. I
still remember the day when mother and I got off the train at the Mumbai
station. It was so crowded! I quickly caught hold of mother’s hand. I was
thinking about how Mama would find us in the crowd.
Just then, I heard someone calling
loudly from behind, “Nandita, Nandita.” I turned back, and there was Mama. We
left the station and were soon on our way to Mama’s house. But, again, it was
so crowded everywhere.
There were many huts lined all along the
narrow street. We went through the street to reach Mama’s house. Mama, Mami,
their two daughters and a son – all live in one room. Now, I too live here with
It is here that we sit, sleep, cook and wash –
all in one room. My house in the village also has only one room, but we have
separate places for cooking and for bathing. We also have a courtyard outside.
Mami, Seema and I get up at 4 o’clock
every morning and go to the public-tap to fill water. Oh no! You won’t believe
how many fights there are for water. If we are just a little late, then we are
not able to fill water for the day.
There is no tap in our house in the
village too. The pond in the village has water. It takes twenty minutes to walk
to it. In summer, sometimes, the water in the pond dries up. Then we have to
walk for almost one hour to the river to get water. But in the village, there
were no fights for water.
In the street where Mama lives, there is
a toilet at one end. Everyone in the street uses that toilet. It is always very
dirty and smells so bad. At first, it used to make me want to vomit.
At times, there is no water. We have to
take water with us. Now I am getting used to all this. In the village, people
go to the open places or fields for toilet. The men and women go to different
Everyday I go to the hospital by bus to see
my mother. At first, I was too scared to get into such crowded buses. I was not
at all used to it. I was afraid.
But now, it is not like that. I know how
to stand in line, how much to pay for the ticket, where to get down. Where we
stay, there is a tall building nearby.
My Mami works in seven houses there. She
washes utensils and cleans the houses. One day I went there with her. When I
first saw the building, I thought that it was one big house. But I found that
there were many houses, one on top of another. I was wondering how I would
climb so many stairs, but there was a lift to take people up and down.
It was like a big iron cage with fan and
light and even a bell. So many of us got into the lift. Somebody pressed the
button and lift went up quickly. To tell you the truth, I was very scared in
Mami took me first to Babloo’s house.
His house was on the twelfth floor. What a big house! So many rooms – one to
sit in, one to eat in, one to sleep in, and one to cook in.
Their toilet was also in the house! It
took Mami a lot of time to clean Babloo’s house, but she could work easily. There
was a tap in the kitchen and water flowed from it.
Babloo put a bucket under the tap to
fill water for his bath. Then he sat down to watch TV. So much water was wasted
– I did not like it. I went
and closed the tap.
Babloo’s house had big glass windows.
Mami told me to look down from the window. I could see Mama’s street and the
houses, but I could not make out which was his house. From up there, everything
below looked like small toys. I was quite afraid to look down from such a
Mama had said that he would take me
around to see Mumbai . The children around here talk a lot about
say that big film stars also live there. May be when I go there, I might see a
film star! These days, Mama is so worried – I cannot ask him to take me to
Last week some people had come with a notice that
everyone should move out of this place. They say a big hotel will be built
Mama was saying that this is the third
time in the last ten years that he got such notices. People who live here have
been given another place to make their houses. But it is very far away another corner of the
There is no drinking water, no
electricity. I don’t even know if any bus goes there. How will Mama reach his
work place from so far? How much money will he have to spend, and how much time
And Mami, will she get some other work there! If
Mama moves to a new place, how will I be able to visit my mother? Mother is not
even completely well as yet!