The door knocked for the second time.
“Coming”, a voice came hurriedly from inside. Shahsara rushed to open the door. It was Fatimah, her maid.
"What happened Fatimah? Why are you late today?"
“What to do Didi! I got delayed because of Reshma”, she said this pointing towards her 8-year old daughter.
“Because of Reshma!”, Shahsara questioned with raised eyebrows. She moved a step towards her, put her palm on her forehead gently to check if she is running with fever. “No, she doesn’t have fever. What happened to her then? Why didn’t she go to school? And why is she here with you today?”
“I’ll narrate you the entire story, but let me finish the work first. I’m already running late. There are other household work also to be done.”
Fatimah rushed to the kitchen with Reshma after her. Shahsara also got busy on an official call.
Soon after some time, Shahsara found Reshma with a broomstick in her hand, trying to sweep the floor. She immediately excused herself from the call and called out Fatimah in a raising tone, “What is all this going on?”
Fatimah stared towards Reshma for a moment and innocently replied,” Anything wrong done by Reshma, Didi?”
“Reshma didn’t do anything wrong. But, who asked her to do this job? This is the time for her to go to school, to learn and to play, not to do household chores.”
“But what to do Didi, have to look after the daily expenses also. Her father has asked to quit the school so that our son can continue the studies and we can manage the expenses also. Moreover, Reshma is not a Cindrella Didi. She is not that beautiful and gorgeous enough that some Prince will come and ask for her hands. If at least she learns the household work, it would be a benefit for her future.”
“Fatimah, that’s exactly what I wanted to say. She is not a Cindrella. And don’t try to make her one. You can’t devoid her from her studies just because her brother’s studies seems more important. She has equal rights. And as far as beauty is concerned, it lies in one’s eyes. Not only she has got a beautiful heart, but a sharp mind also. She is talented. Remembered how happy you were when you have shown me her Maths paper in which she scored the highest. Remembered when she got a medal in inter-state karate championship, you were the only one who came with a box full of sweets.”
“Yes Didi, I do remember. It’s easy to celebrate the small moments of happiness, but have to deal with the facts of life at the same time. On the long go, she has to get married and need someone for her security. Doesn’t she?”
“No Fatimah. She doesn’t need someone just for her security. It’s a mutual relationship. Let her not be judged merely by her appearance or so called good virtues of a Sanskari girl. Give her the strength and power that once she grows up, she can take care of herself, she can look after herself. Give her the faith that she can be independent on her own. Please keep her away from these age-old virtues, in which the only ambition or settlement of a girl’s life is getting married to a well-settled handsome boy, and the only motive would be to please him by your looks and in return, he will take care of you, provide you so-called security for the entire life. I hope you understand what I’m trying to convey.”
Fatimah’s eyes were moist with tears.
Shahsara hold her hands in hers, looked directly into her eyes, and said, “All that she needs is Another Chance. Will you?”