The long verandah didn't seem longer anymore. The rumbling thoughts suddenly left Rupa at the turning point to the living room, and suddenly a genuinely fake smile joined her. She entered the room and bowed down her head to wish Radhey-Shyam uncle a silent namaste. She laid down the tray on the table and started putting the cups in front of her Dad, Mom, and her uncle. All of them were smiling. Not that she was looking in their face to ascertain the fact. But their silent smiles had an energy that, instead of reaching her ears, vibrated her heart. She was subconsciously praying to God and thanking for every moment that passed without a question that would require a direct answer from her. As she finished laying down the cups and turned quickly to go away, Radhey Shyam said, "Congratulations!! Rupa". She thanked him with a smiling nod. She took two steps back and left the living room with the tray in her hand. She crossed the long verandah in quick steps, just mumbling "Thank God" repetitively. She directly went to the kitchen. In a house with nine people and more than nine rooms, her favorite abode was the kitchen.
At any hour of the day except school and night, Rupa was found to be in the kitchen. It was her place because no one was elder enough to take up the tasks she has been designated to since she was 13. Satvika, her mother, never entered the kitchen since Rupa became eligible to understand how to make edible food. Since then, Satvika only gave instructions, and Rupa was left alone to figure out how to do it. No, Satvika was not cruel. She, too, had picked greater responsibilities than handling a kitchen when she was thirteen. And after seven children and waiting for Rupa to grow old enough to cook some edible food, she thought she could be relieved of this responsibility. The first time Rupa prepared breakfast for the whole family, she knew she had a lot to learn, and she was not hesitant nor excited. Instead, she just absorbed the kitchen work and made it a part of her world. She was expecting the same to happen for the new beginning that awaited her.
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