She was fairly tired of playing at a single place. It was her elder sister who prevented her from moving even a step ahead right from that place. They were seated under a banyan tree at the upper right side of the canal. All other kids had vanished from eye sight. Only few women were taking dip, down the canal along with their earthen pots. The canal makes most of their living. Their father like many others catches fish from the canal on regular basis. That too is a great source of merriment for the kids like her. She is nearly eight years of old. Her parents and only sister Rini calls her by the name Sini. She attends a local school like her elder sister who is in a bigger class than her. She is jealous of her elder sister due to her relatively stronger position at home. She has been instructed by their parents to obey Rini Di* all the time. It was such a bitter thing for her to always carry out orders of Rini Di. Such a tyrant Rini Di is not letting her go down the canal, she murmured. Rini Di usually remains away from her during day time as then she attends her bigger class where all the big girls study with her. Then she gets all the time to be a tail of her mother. When mother goes down the canal to take her afternoon dip and to get water for casual use, Sini follows her. There, she plays with the stray puppies, muddy sand, pebbles and also with other kids available there until mother finishes her regular afternoon dip. Today, she is missing that regular joy. Today she finds herself as a hostage of Rini Di.
She is missing her mother so much that in a large frequency tears are rolling off her chicks. She can't remember the last day when her mother was away from home and Rini Di was in charge of her. She hated staying with Rini Di whole day long, who is much matured a girl than that of her age. She, in the absence of mother keeps house clean and also cooks rice pudding. Today she has prepared such rice pudding for her. Sini appreciates the only thing in her sister is that she makes delicious rice pudding that no one in the whole universe can ever be able to make such special pudding; not even their mother. But today she is denying to take rice pudding. She is very much hungry, it is as blatant as the moving shade of the banyan tree. Yet she is firm at her determination not to eat pudding prepared by Rini Di. Because Rini Di is preventing her from moving freely and also she is not taking her to the canal bank even though they are sitting very near to the canal. Their house is too small for playing. Their parents often move a little bent in their one room hut to avoid hitting their heads on the thatched roof. It is a little dark for having no windows; yet it is the luxurious most place of relaxation as a heaven can be for the family. Since no activities other than eating and sleeping can be done inside the house, they had all the permission to play within twenty meters from their hut. The cemented floor under the banyan tree was the best place for playing, sleeping and also finishing the school home works. It is the most lighted place even during night as it gets light from the street lamp on both sides and and from a near by shop. During night their mother cooks rice and curry in front of their hut and father accompanies both the sisters to their regular place of sitting, relaxing and studying, that is near the big banyan tree. When the two sisters finish reading their school books, father usually tells stories of ghosts and fairies. Both of them get immersed in the stories for a long period even forgetting their post studies hunger until mother calls for dinner. Rainy season makes their regular life much difficult as most of the time they remain inside the tiny hut and mother affords food with much difficulty by cooking under polythene cover.
But it is winter, a very pleasant season. Yet she is the hostage of Rini Di. She can't do what she wishes to do in the absence of mother. When Rini Di was preparing pudding, she secretly grabbed two puppies to arrange a marriage ceremony for them. She was the groom's mother who was to welcome her daughter-in- law her home. So she tied the groom puppy with a stump and took the other puppy down the canal alone and bathed that puppy with canal water. She was about to take her would be daughter-in-law towards her groom son, when being informed by a woman taking bath in the canal Sini Di came infuriated. By freeing the damp puppy from her hand she dragged her by her ear to the hut where she would take rice pudding. Sini is crying vociferously. It was beyond Rini Di's tricks to make her stop crying. It is not new for Rini to see her sister Sini making puppies wedding by tieing them together. Even she has joined with her in the interesting play many a times before. And they have also organised feast on that event. But today she is irritated by the site of the mischievous deed of her sister. She even can't stand if Sini argues with her. As yet she had slapped Sini on her face thrice. Sini was also adamant with her decision of not taking even a little of rice pudding from Rini Di until mother comes. Rini who also was not in a mood to coax her sister, told in an uninterested voice that she has to take rice pudding prepared by her every day. Suddenly Sini was silent with a shock. "What! are you not going school any more?"
Rini replied with a shaky voice "no princes, I am not going your school anymore. From today onward I will be your caretaker." She began weeping. Wiping off Rini Di's tears Sini wondered why she can't go to school anymore! Rini said with a low voice, "we are very poor in this big town, Mother has also to work along with father to feed both of us. She would not be home during the day time. Father was telling that I have read enough and should take care of your studies and take care of you instead of going to school." Both the sisters for a while were looking outside vacantly from the bamboo door of their hut. There was a strange silence as if that was some marooned land and two girls unknown to each other are fallen from above from different places of earth! Suddenly Rini pinched her hand. Both the sisters smiled towards each other. As Sini was taking her pudding, Rini began telling the story of Cinderella which is written beautifully on an old water bottle she once got laid on the canal bank and which she had been using as her school water bottle as yet. Now she is handing over her pet bottle to Rini. She can use the bottle as her own which was pretty a matter of pride for her. Poor Cinderella was asking about her mother to a tiny speaking bird on the branch of a tree. The two sisters were peeping outside as the speaking bird was sitting right on the drumstick plant near their hut. Four tiny eyes sparkled with joy as they would ask speaking bird the exact time of arrival of their mother.
*Di or Didi means elder sister in India.