It was the party to end all parties. To celebrate Diwali, the whole village had come together in one vast festival spirit. Nisha had danced and danced until she felt she would drop. The celebration was tinged in sadness, however, because fourteen-year-old Nisha would also be leaving for Mumbai the next day. It was time for Nisha to begin contributing to the family, Nisha’s mother had arranged for her to keep house for a distant cousin in the city, and Nisha had said tearful goodbyes to parents and siblings for who knows how long?
At 3AM the next morning, Nisha woke, dressed, and without waking a soul, picked up a small case of vital belongings. Her destination? The town of Chatghar, a three-mile walk from her village, where she would catch the 6AM train into Mumbai, and her new job.
Nisha opened the door to leave, when her mother’s figure appeared through the darkness. They embraced tearfully, silently. As a parting gift, Mum untied some left-over balloons and handed them to Nisha as a memento of the night before.