Published on Saturday, June 29, 2019

Returning from school, Russel noticed a strange girl sweeping the yard. He learned from his mother the girl was his maternal cousin's newlywed wife. His cousin would fly back to the middle east in a few days after a three-month vacation; Therefore, they paid a visit. Russel had attended their marriage ceremony held a month ago, but he couldn't see her face behind the bridal veil. That afternoon, instead of his mother, the girl of his own age served him the meal. Then Russel left home for crop fields to play football and after half an hour, limped back home, slightly injured in his leg and covered with mud. After a good wash, Russel sat beside the girl cooking on the wood-burning stove.

The next morning, wearing school uniform and shouldering the school bag, Russel headed for school. But when he was on the way to school, an acute pain struck him in the stomach, and he hobbled back home, clutching his belly and stooping his shoulder. As soon as he arrived home, the ache eased. Now the girl was playing ekkadokka in the backyard with neighboring girls. Right away, Russel changed clothes, joined them, and the girls got astonished, for he had never participated in their games before and always made rude comments. After the sport, when his sister-in-law entered the kitchen to cook, he followed her. And in the afternoon, he played Bouchi with the girls including the female visitor. As long as the girl lodged in their house, on the way to school, he felt stomach ache and returned home instantly, and he found more amusement in the girls' sports than football and felt more comfortable in sitting beside the girl cooking than at his reading desk.

One morning, the girl wearing red Sharee, the purse slung over her shoulder and her husband wearing white Punjabi and Lungi, holding the canvas bag by the strips said goodbye to Russel's parents. Russel would escort them to the nearby bus station. They ambled to the close-by road, and his cousin waved a CNG run auto-rickshaw running along the road. Thereupon, the auto-rickshaw pulled on beside them, and the driver held the door open; they piled into it, the girl in the middle, her face stern. When the auto-rickshaw approached the bus station, the girl caressed Russel's left arm with her soft hand. Thus, his body shuddered, heart raced, and eyes dilated with pleasure. As the auto-rickshaw pulled over at the destination, a spasm of terrible pain flared up on his arm. His mouth fell open, and his face contorted with pain. Still, he managed to refrain himself from crying out. A thin trickle of blood ran down from the flesh wound the girl had made, pinching hard with her sharp nail.

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