Her wrists are not embellished like the other little girls. She would often pretend to be one of them; the pretty schoolgirls, with braids, weaved in satin ribbons, and the gold heart bracelets on their fairer wrists. She wanted to feel relevant, validated; she wanted to belong, The two rings on her fingers are not made of gold like the other girls; hers are silver and now had turned into a copper, leaving a green circle on her olive skin. It is filthy; she is filthy. Enraged by her truth, she flings them across the yard and squats in a corner. Her black oily hair sticks to her cheeks as she pokes at the hole of her faded dress. A crow flies by and she follows it until it de-materializes in the horizon. The girls singing disrupt her daze, “Seema Seema is a flea, she looks like dirt, and smells like pee!”
With her usual slouch, she withdraws, reevaluating her dusty bare feet, her unkempt nails, and climbs aboard the rickshaw. A tear forms and falls down to her lips. Absorbed in her anguish, she doesn’t hear the pandemonium of the Mumbai streets; the frantic exchange of policemen due to an escaped tiger, nor does she see the buffaloes and the herd of cows holding up traffic. Seema had transcended to a world of class and grace; admiring the golden heart bracelet on her grimy wrists. It was a triumphant trick she played on all of them. Once she arrives, she holds herself erect and faces her makeshift home, sees a pack of stray dogs sleeping, and the cow poop at her doorstep. The defilement provokes a repressed memory to surface. Not too long ago, she and her family were pavement dwellers and now they live here, in a cage-like abode. On an impulse, Seema tramps toward the creek, grimaces at the bracelet and hurls it with vigor. Thinking she might explode, she sticks her tongue out and eases her fury. “Seemu! Seemu”, her mother calls. She turns back and runs to her, buries her head in her mother’s arms and cries. The tears are her confession, and just as they came, they subsided when she hears her cousins call her, “Didi! Didi! Come and play!” Seema wipes the snot and tears from her face and skips to them. This is where she wants to be. This is where she belongs.