Durga ran through the clutter of rickshaws ignoring the splatters of mud staining her soiled and frayed frock. In her rough and dry hands were wads of money, her reward for having slaved for a month in that palatial residence, scrubbing floors, dirty dishes and laundry. Finally, she would be able to pay her brother's school dues, long pending. But first she would have to hide this bundle from the bleary and glazed eyes of her wasted father. Drunk as he stayed, he had this amazing talent of sniffing the green currency from three houses away. She closed the door ever so gently, hastily and soundlessly making her way towards the attic where she slept. The plan was to hide the small parcel beneath her mattress before attending to her father. She was barely on second step when he called her out "lil princess ... Got a lil present for your daddy dear, have we, eh?" Firm and resolved, she shook her head, hiding her hands behind her, crumbling and crushing the crisp currency. But he grabbed her hands, "lyin are we here, missy?" his eyes fixed on her face. She had hoped to see her scared face in his eyes. All that stared back was green greed and Budweiser. She knew she would not be able to fight them both. Slowly she opened her hands. Tomorrow she would have to beg the principal to give her some more time.
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