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The Prejudice that Didn't Last (8).jpg

Durga loved playing with her cousin, Vishnu. It had just been a day since she was at her uncle's. A young girl of 12, Durga was very excited on the eve of her birthday. It was for the very first time, that she was going to celebrate her birthday away from home. It was going to be a new experience.

Every year on her birthday, she would relish the sweet delicacies prepared by her mother. No one would scold her even if the poor little butterfingers dropped a piece or two on her fresh new dress gifted to her by her dad. In the afternoon, she would enjoy listening to a beautiful novel story, before her customary nap. On waking up, she would excitedly get well dressed for the party in the evening. All her friends would come to greet her with gifts in their hands and she would have treats ready for them. By night, she would've exhausted herself so much that she wouldn't have one single breath left in her. She would sleep wherever she could, and even her next morning would pass in remembering her happy yesterday, exactly like what was happening right now.

Her excitement had gone a notch higher when she'd overheard her uncle say to her aunt: "I'm so elated about the celebrations for Durga. Have you double-checked the guest list?". Her happiness knew no bounds, as she slept in tight, holding her dear pillow, dreaming about the next day.

The morning, underwhelmingly for Durga, had a routine start. She had brushed her teeth, had her bath, and put on her favorite outfit. She was yet to receive her first greeting. "Clearly, I can't be wrong about my birth date. Am I sure it is the 12th of October?", she thought to herself. She then checked the living room calendar. It, indeed, was the 12th of October.

Confused, she was. Surely, she had heard her uncle say what he did the other day, which meant that he did know of her birthday. As she thought of this, her eyes brightened up, and her cheeks blushed. It obviously implied that there was not just going to be any party, but a surprise party in the evening! The beaming smile was wider than it had ever been. She felt so special that not just her parents, even her relatives cared so much about her.

She walked into her cousin Vishnu's room and saw him playing video games on his latest computer. As she was about to join him, "Durga!", she heard in her aunt's loud voice. A little dejected, she went to her at once.

"Were you planning to play video games with Vishnu so early in the morning? Is that what young girls like you are supposed to do? Don't you know there's so much work pending? Even if it weren't for today, I wouldn't have allowed it. Let him play the video games as much as he wants; you better get to work. I want all the rooms swept and mopped, as clean as they can get, in an hour and a half. Do you get it? I want none of our guests to have a single complaint", her aunt rambled in a single breath.

Durga looked a bit confused. Just as she was about to speak up, her aunt continued, "A total of fifty guests have been invited for this occasion. What? Don't you know today is the sixth day of Durga Puja? Today is when we bring the goddess to our home so that we seek blessings for equality among all. Get to your work in a jiffy, I say."

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