Just Another Story
Sometimes, when Rita was not thinking of her mother, she would think of snow. Her father had not been able to send her to school yet; to travel seemed to be a luxury. Her name was the only thing her mother could give to her before she passed away. Rita was a beautiful little child. She was fond of learning. The little town where she lived was located to the south of India where her father Narayan - a respectable man with dark copper hair and heavy jowls - owned a small business. Poverty was their constant companion. Rita had never been elsewhere; she had never seen snow except for in photographs.
"When shall I see snow father?" she would ask.
"Soon enough," Narayan would reply.
The rich, old local magistrate Raicharan was very fond of Rita. His house was the only one with a doorbell in the entire town of Kashinagar.
"That doorbell of yours buzzez like the bees in our garden. I have heard the horn of my father's cycle make such a sound when he returns home in the evening," said Rita. Her hair was tied in two long braids, her feet were muddy, her face joyful. Raicharan's heart would swell with happiness listening to the innocent girl's mirthful voice. He had no child of his own. He would provide her with clothes, toys and books. He taught her to read. He told her stories of enchanted forests, hidden treasures and the heavy traffic and tall buildings in the cities he visited in his lifetime. They would sing and play together. Those were the lively, happy days.
Then came the rains in heavy deluges accompanied by thunder and lightning. The river overflowed. Rainwater leaked from the poorly constructed tin roof of Narayan's house. Pneumonia and malaria spread like wildfire. People suffered and poor Rita was no exception. As soon as Raicharan received the news, he sent for the best doctor in town.
"There is little hope for the girl to survive. You must take her to the Northern States. There are good hospitals there," said the good doctor after a long, tiring battle that lasted a few months.
Rita, however, refused. One look at her weary little brown eyes was enough to realise how grieved she was. She thought it was useless to make her live. She had seen how hard her father worked to provide her with the basic necessities and to clear his debts. Rita didn't want to burden him anymore. She just wanted to be united with her mother. She had heard stories of snow in the abode of the Indian gods. She hoped to go there.
However, Raicharan would not hear any of it. He took her to the Northern States at his own cost. They were greeted by the cold winter climate of the Himalayas. Rita lay on her hospital bed anticipating the near end. She had known from the very beginning that her life could not be saved. The last thing she saw, before darkness engulfed her, was the view outside the small glass window of the room. It was snowing.