Her legs repeatedly tapped on the worn out carpet and her entire body felt restless. She threw longing glances outside the window every now and then. Every time she started to fidget, her mother would cast her a deathly look. So eventually, she resigned to playing with the hem of her new dress.

     Leila had no idea why her mother dressed her up today. All she wanted to do was roll around in the mud like her brother.

    There were many things that made Leila feel like something was wrong today; for the first time, in fourteen years of her existence, did her father not look at her with malice. She threw sceptic looks at the man sitting in front of her. He had crooked teeth, red with paan that he ate and looked awful lot like the man who had once offered her friend Meenakshi chocolate. Leila tried to remember the last time she saw Meenakshi. She couldn’t remember. 

   But her parents were smiling while they talked to him. That means everything is fine, right?

    After he left, her mother did not let her play outside. She called Leila a grown woman and ordered her to help in the kitchen.

   Leila heard her parents talk about dowry. What did dowry mean?

    Leila saw her parents pack her belongings. Where was she going?

   Leila met the man again. He said they were married. Was Leila’s mother also married at fourteen?

   Leila saw her parents happy after a long time. Was her presence so suffocating?


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