A Little Light

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Shanta hurriedly stirred the onion fritters while her husband waited with a cup of sweet tea. A few drops of boiling oil leaped on to her wrists angrily, but she was used to burns. She had cooked for her family for more than 40 years; her hands were full of scars that stayed with her like bad memories. Shanta’s husband entered the kitchen impatiently, inhaling the fragrance of coconut oil. “What do I vote for?” she asked. “Ram’s temple or Babur’s mosque?” He laughed aloud. She turned the fritters again—not very kindly this time—and stabbed at one mercilessly while it was still hissing in the wok. Her husband moved aside. “Who sent YOU the link to vote?” he asked, still amused. Shanta switched off the stove, brought out the fritters and arranged them in a plate for her husband to eat. She then hobbled to the sofa, picked up her phone and deleted the link. No man—whether Hindu King or Muslim Emperor—would get her vote. Besides, the sun had set, leaving behind a terrible darkness. She lit a lamp and carried it to the door, bringing grace and light into a world filled with ugly shadows.

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