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“You are our pride”, says Ma jubilantly, as she continues to stuff my clothes into the red suitcase. It is our de facto baggage when we travel to any town or city, before a special performance.
“Baba says there’s a lot of prize money this time.” Ma’s voice trails off, as she walks out of the room, while I sit by the doorstep, gazing into the unknown.
Baba returned from Kolkata last night, having signed me up for a competition, organised by a TV channel. I do not like being dragged around, from city to city, parading myself as a singer, but my parents do. After all, their hopes are all pinned on me, now.
“Baba, please, I don’t want to go this time,” I mutter, recoiling at the thought of being stuck with 30 strangers in a big house, miles away from home.
Baba simply shakes his head and says, “No, Mishtu. It will be fine.“
I cannot tell you how much I detest the word ‘talent’! It has taken me away from my dreams—of ever going to school and playing seven stones with friends, or berry-picking. The swinging mango tree and those endless stories on rain-soaked afternoons are now lost to me, forever.
This morning, I trudged up, for one last time, to see the open fields. The birds kept swirling above, as they always did, while the Moon shone brightly, under a twilight sky.
Nothing looked different, except for the trajectory of my own life.