Baba always said he wanted a son because⁠—”Sons lit the pyres”⁣⁣

Baba had stopped talking to me when I was in class six. I wanted to learn Kathak. He wanted me to study law.⁣⁣
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There are only a few places to visit in a one-room government quarter. I’d discovered thirty inside it to hide my Ghunghroos. Every evening, before Baba returned home, I hid them in a new place. ⁣⁣
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If Baba found the Ghunghroos, he burnt them. If he didn’t find them, he went to the temple the next day; and gave God an extra litre of milk.⁣⁣
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“I always wanted a son.” I’d hear Baba say.⁣⁣
“You shouldn’t have aborted our daughter. Karma is hitting us back.” Ma argued. Like most women, she blamed herself for anything she considered wrong.⁣⁣
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I used to sell jasmine garlands to buy Ghunghroos. If I had an extra garland left, I wore it while returning home.⁣⁣
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One hot June, all the flowers died. I stole the Ghunghroo belonging to Rehmat chacha’s daughter. He didn’t ask for money, but told Baba⁠—”Your son is different.”⁣⁣
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That afternoon, after ten years of Baba and me, talking to each other through Ma, Baba hit me. I ran away from home the same night, but forgot to take the Ghunghroo.⁣⁣
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Time passed. I became a renowned dancer, but didn’t return home. I was practicing on stage abroad, when Baba passed away in our quarter. ⁣⁣
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By the time I came back, they had burnt him. Baba always said he wanted a son because⁠—”Sons lit the pyres.”⁣⁣
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Ma had made a garland of white jasmines to hang on Baba’s photograph. She said Baba had asked her to. I didn’t believe her.⁣⁣
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Ma told me⁠, after I’d left, Baba used to carry my ghunghroos in his pocket, wherever he went.⁣⁣
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She gave me the brass pot with Baba’s ashes inside. The pot wasn’t heavy, but made noise at every movement. When I opened it to check, I couldn’t believe what I saw among Baba’s ashes⁠—the unburnt pieces of the Ghunghroo which I’d left behind.