The Heir: Chapter Two
Panting, Bhavna almost stumbled into an almost empty ladies’ compartment of the local train as the train started moving. She was carrying a very heavy black bag that made her bend a little to the side, owing to her slender frame. She scanned the compartment and looked disappointed. There were very few ladies, may be 15 or so, in the local train that afternoon and Bhavna didn’t know how she would be able to sell her wares to women before the rush hour in the evening. She was late today, she would generally take a 10.30 am train, when the rush hour had passed but there were enough women to sell to. But today her little one Anu, now almost 2 years old, was sick. She had requested her sister-in-law, who lived in the next building, to babysit the girls for the day.
If her mother was there, she would have asked her mother to come to take care of the children but her mother had fallen out with her sister-in-law and now lived in an old age ashram. The sister-in-law refused flatly to take care of the girls, not even bothering to give an excuse to let Bhavna down easy. Bhavna didn’t want to leave the girls alone in the apartment even though she had kept milk for Anu within their reach. Shivi was 6 now – she was more capable of battling her hunger than Anu was. Yet, Bhavna had made her some rice and a small bowl of daal for lunch and then had requested her neighbour to keep an eye on the girls. The neighbour had agreed but for a price. Bhavna had no option but to agree to give her half of her day’s earnings to take care of the girls. She used to get 50 paise for every 20rs brasserie/underwear sold. She would have to sell all today by 5 otherwise Shivi and herself might have to go hungry that night.
Thinking that, Bhavna took out 4 brasseries from her bag, held 2 in each hands and began selling – ‘Bra-knicker! Pad wali bra…20rs ki do. 20rs ki do.’(Bra-panties! With pads. 2 for 20 rupees, 2 for 20 rupees.) 2-3 women raised their eyes in her direction. Bhavna went to them, pulling the elastic bands of the bras to prove their elasticity – ‘Ekdum kadak elastic – knicker ka kapda ekdum mulayam…ben..ye dekho…aaj kharido, 6 mahine tak pehno. 20rs ki do..20rs ki do...’ (The elastic is sturdy, the cloth of the panty/knicker is very soft. You buy it today, you can wear it for 6 more months. 2 for 20 rupees. 2 for 20 rupees). A couple of women showed interest and one of them haggled with her: ‘25 ki 3 de rahi hai to main loon’. (Give me 3 for 25. Come on!) Bhavna said to her, ‘ye to bahut kam ho jayega,ben..main kya kamaungi. 20 ki 2 hi to hai.’ (that is too less. It’s merely 20 for 2) But the woman had already taken out 25rs and she wasn’t willing to take out more. ‘Thik hai. to nahi chahiye.’ (okay, then I don’t want it.) ‘Thik hai, de do. 25 ki 3.’, (all right. 3 for 25 rupees) said Bhavna, having no choice. She once again took out two more bras from her bag and started selling more vigorously. ‘20 ki do. 20 ki do.’ (2 for 20 rupees!) The train whistled and picked speed as Bhavna resumed selling underwear to the women of the train.
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