Tupur rushed down a flight of stairs and ran to her mother, who was stirring the gravy of the 'illish maach' eagerly. "Ma! Can you give me 50 rupees?", Tupur said breathlessly. "50 rupees?! Whatever do you need that amount for?" "I need to buy something. Ma, please? You promised that you'll give me money before Durga Pujo, remember?" "Yes. But you still did not answer my question. What do you need it for?" Tupur hesitated a little. "I want to buy something for a friend on her birthday.", she said weakly. Her mother lifted her hand to cup Tupur's cheek. "Tupur, we cannot afford to distribute gifts. We can barely make ends meet. Had it not been for Thakurda, we would have been homeless by now. I'm sorry." "But Ma", Tupur said with a breaking voice, "it's Durga Pujo" "I know Tupi, but beggars can't be choosers." Tupur turned serious at this. In a grave manner she said, "We're not beggars, Ma. Never call yourself that. We work for a living just like everybody else. Just because cooking and cleaning is considered as jobs for inferiors, doesn't mean it's not work." "Accha baba raag korish na. Go and deliver this to Sayani." He mother handed her a cup of tea and two toast biscuits.
Tupur and her mother, Lata had been alone for as long as she can remember. Her father was a drunkard who suffered an untimely death. Although she doesn't remember him, she has heard horrifying tales from her mother of what a despicable man he was. She hates him. Her mother used to work at a certain Mr. Mukherjee's until he died due to an unforeseen heart attack. Lata and Tupur became homeless. They went from door to door asking if anyone needed a full time maid. Tupur was willing to work too. Luckily, they ended up at a house who's master was awfully generous. Mr. Hiraklal Ganguly. He was a retired railway officer with a daughter who is not much older than Tupur. He was a kind man with a massive heart and he welcomed and helped the inferiors.
Tupur always believed that love is for the rich. Well, until she fell in love herself. She is in love with someone who she did not want to love. At first, she hated the person for their flawlessness and beauty but then the more she came in contact, the more she felt it. The smell, the ways, the happiness radiated from an impeccable source and astounded her as she absorbed all of it. It felt like lying on a vast plain of grass, the birds chirping at a distance, grasshoppers hovering around your arms as you take a long sniff of the myrtle and the sunshine mixed together. A necklace with a heart engraved on the pendant. She wanted to gift a necklace for which she needed money from her Ma. She had seen it in the movies and has hence dreamed of giving her lover a necklace.
The poor don't dream. They don't have the privilege of being "out of the box". And when Tupur realised she was in love with a girl, she was in disbelief. She slapped herself quite a few times and even restricted herself from seeing her but it ate her up. She was fond of watching movies where love ends tragically but living in a tragical tale did not suit her fancy. She wanted to be around her all the time. She wanted to suffocate herself by filling her lungs with her aroma. She wanted to feel her, to love her and live her.
And she did.
She walked up two flights of stairs and stopped right before the door. She let a deep breath out and knocked on the door. "Come in." Tupur entered the room and closed the door behind her. Her heart skipped a beat. "I can't give you anything for your birthday. I'm sorry." Sayani looked up at Tupur with eyes softer than an angel's and smile warmer than the sun. "I love you anyway."