She had never liked her job. But the news of her brother coming to visit her made her go a long way to hide her profession.

She cleaned her house, scrubbed the floors vigorously and changed the bed sheets and curtains.

She – He will never know!

And she would clean again.

A week passed and as the day of his visit came closer, she grew more and more nervous. There were quite a few times that she went to the public phone booth, picked up the receiver and dialed his number. She was so close to telling him to not come. But how could she? She had longed to meet someone from home.

It had been 3 years since she had left her village to come to the city and work. It had been 3 years since she had even seen Ma’s face. How could she tell him not to come?

And then the day finally came. She went to the station to pick him, dressed in her best traditional attire. But with the whistle of every passing train, she became more anxious. Just as she thought she couldn’t bear to wait any longer, she heard his voice call her name.

She forgot all her worries and ran to hug him. Tears rolling down their cheeks, they held each other as if time and distance was just an illusion.

They finally went to her place and laughed, cried and talked all at the same time. How they had missed each other!

Days passed like this. She cooked for him and they joked about how she had finally learnt to even spot the difference between salt and sugar.

Then one day, as he came back home from a stroll in the neighbourhood, his face was tear-stained.

She (worriedly) – What happened?

He – How could you, didi?

He knew! She couldn’t hide it any longer.

She – I had no choice.

He – But, think about the society. What will the other villagers say?

She – I shall think about the society the day it earns my bread for me. Until then, I’ll follow my own path.

He – But we’re the highest Brahmin class. We are known for our principles.

She – I’m not doing anything wrong. I don’t eat it, I just cut the meat. What’s wrong in being a butcher?



Author: Zainab Haji

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