The daughters of a construction worker


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I looked at the cloudy sky and knew it is going to rain at night. It was already windy and the girls were enjoying the weather. I gazed at the lush green mango grove a few meters away from our home and tried to spot the last batch of mangoes still ripening on the branches. Only if I could go there and climb the trees, but the sprawling jungle beneath those trees kept me away.

I decided to go outside for a walk and my girls followed me. Just a few steps away, another home was being built. It had almost been a year and by just looking at the structure I could say the architect did an amazing job! Right next to a big house, the management had built small homes for the construction workers and their families. That’s where I spotted two little girls – Nagu and Uma. They had big innocent eyes, short haircut probably for easy maintenance, dressed in oversized clothes and bare feet. Their ears were adorned with small earrings and feet with payal’s which is a south Indian trait for little kids. It really complimented their big curiosity-filled eyes. I assumed the elder one would be around 3 years and the younger one looked just over a year old. Looking at Sabar and Sehaj they walked towards us and stood there as if they were seeking my permission to come closer. I smiled at both of them and encouraged the girls to say hello. The weird part is they all stood still and kept looking at each other.

Over a few weeks, we started seeing those girls everyday playing on the road. Mostly all the kids communicated in toddler language and I would be left wondering what is happening? Sometimes Nagu and Uma would walk up to the main gate of my house and I would let them in. They never spoke a word, even though I tried to talk to them I knew they wouldn’t understand me because their mother tongue was Kannada, and I had no clue about it.

I would often make them all sit on the front porch and offer fruits to them. They would sit in a line and enjoy the succulent seasonal fruits. One day their mom came looking for them and was happy to see all four interacting with each other. She tried talking to me, but somehow I managed to convey that I don’t understand her language. We communicated in my broken Kannada, her broken Hindi, and sign language. I asked what age were her girls and she said 3 and 2. Nagu looked fine, but Uma looked much smaller for her age. Standing next to Sabar she was almost 4 inches shorter than her and way smaller. Even though I was convinced that they both are loved and well taken care of. I looked at their mother who was hardly 5 feet tall and petite built. I told myself it’s probably genetics!

What surprised me the most about Nagu and Uma was that they would collect interesting stones from the construction site and bring them over to our home. They were always willing to share their treasures with Sabar and Sehaj. It always put a smile on my face and left me wondering they have so little and still want to share it. In the evenings when I watered my lawn, the kids would just hang around and try to chase the water and explore the garden. One day Nagu spotted a ball in the garden, which we usually keep inside the house. I knew she wanted to play with it; my girls hardly touched it, so I gave it to Nagu. That’s the first and only time I have seen her smile and laugh. She is at the age when kids love to jump around and play ball. Looking at her excitement I didn’t even ask for it back.

The same night when I was organizing my kid’s closet, I thought of keeping some clothes aside for Uma, which my girls have outgrown. Even thought she was 6 months elder to Sabar and Sehaj, she was much smaller than them. I looked at the Disney crocs, my babies very first shoes. I tucked them away to add to my memory box. Next few days were very busy and we didn’t go for our evening walks. One day I walked to the new house with my girls only to see that they had left. The construction site was barren, no one was around and the main door of the house was locked.

Just like that they were gone.

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