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As the warm breeze whispered through the chimes hanging from the balcony ceiling, taking her quilt off, Lakshmi galloped to the lavatory. Apparelled in an unadorned chiffon saree with a thin border, Lakshmi adorned her lips with a dark lip shade and put vermillion at the parting of her hair. Sweeping her hair into a neat bun at the crown of her head, Lakshmi rushed to Gauri's room and putting her long bony fingers on Gauri's forehead, she maffled, “Gauri, uth jao warna school ke liye late hojaogi.”
As she hung back to take her commodious white blanket off, Lakshmi sang Gauri her favorite lullaby, swaddling her in her arms.
Rubbing her eyes and yawning constantly, gaping her mouth, Gauri said, “It's so soothing, Maa. Don't stop singing.”
Tickling her nonchalantly under her ears and grinning like a Cheshire Cat, Lakshmi said, “Jaldi se fresh hojao warna bournvita thanda ho jaega.”
“Okay, Maa. I'll be there in 10 minutes.”
As Gauri packed her school bag, looking into her time table, Lakshmi fed her two large-sized aloo parathas with little extra butter.
Gulping the last of her bournvita and passing her tongue over her upper lip, Gauri said, “Let's go, Maa or else we'll get late.”
Clasping her hand in Lakshmi's, Gauri walked to school, neatly dressed with two ponytails. Dropping her off at school, she said, “Bye, Gauri. Mann lagake padhai Karna.”
Wrapping her arms around Lakshmi's waist and beaming as happy as a lark, Gauri said, “Bye, Maa. Shaam ko milte hein.”
As Lakshmi's high heels clattered down the road, young lads mocked at her saying, “Dekh bhai, hijra hai.”
“Shyaam bhaiya, dekho dekho kinner jaa rahi hai.” An ocean of laughter surrounded them when they saw her passing by them.
The mocks of the young lads perforated her but without uttering a single word, she treaded away with an endearing grin on her face.
As she was about to fall upon a plump cheeked little girl, licking a popsicle, her mother dragged her away from Lakshmi, looking straight into her brown, beady eyes with her dark, malevolent ones. Lowering her gaze, Lakshmi walked away quietly.
On reaching the NGO, she hurried to her cabin and after completing her paper works, she headed in the direction of the hall where hundreds of orphaned and abandoned girl children were taught for free.
Seeing Lakshmi at the door of the hall, a girl stood up and as her eyes said elation, she asked, “Lakshmi Aai, Lakshmi Aai, Kathak kab sikhaoge?”
Looking into her virtuous dark brown eyes, Lakshmi replied, “Gayatri, jitni jaldi ye questions complete karoge, mein aapko Kathak sikhaungi.”
A couple of hours later, Lakshmi was seen gyrating her hands, syncing to the music of sarangi and manjira. Untying her anklet bells, she said, “Aj ke liye bas itna hi, kal shaam ko milte hein.” Bidding them goodbye, Lakshmi left for her home.
As she waved her hand at a tempo, the tempo driver drove away lowering his brows at her and drawing them together to form a 'V'. Unable to hire public transport, she plodded to her house, weary and exhausted. Striding across the road, Lakshmi came across a gang of boys poking fun at a teenage girl. The sudden rush of blood made her lash out at the boys, breaking their bones. As the boys rolled on the ground in agony, Lakshmi helped the teen to her home.
Wailing like a child, the teenager said, "Thank You, Tai. Thank You so much."
Tucking her locks of hair behind her earlobe, she said, "You're welcome. Take care of yourself."
As the moon rose and the night air smelled honeysuckle, pulsed with the sound of the crickets, plumping herself down on one of the benches in a vibrant street of Mumbai, Lakshmi was taken a trip down her memory lane. Enveloped in a blanket of twinkling stars, she remembered how 5 years back she had saved Gauri from child trafficking, fighting against the evil and malicious eyes of the child traffickers.
Since the day she had rescued Gauri, she had become her Lakshmi Maa, a trans mother.
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