Urmilla Khanna
and Channie Greenberg

Channie Greenberg
“Abstracted Hillside”
Inspiration piece

Radha’s Dream
By Urmilla Khanna

Radha’s eyelids flickered ever so slightly as she turned on to her side and pulled the soft comforter over her bare arms and head. A gentle breeze swayed the chintz curtains on the window. She was going to be five tomorrow and, in that excitement, she was fighting sleep. Finally sleep came and brought with it a dream.

In her dream world, she stepped out of bed and tiptoed to the window. She saw a red road that led to a house far, far away. She could see the silhouette of the house. It was an old-style bungalow, with manicured gardens. The courtyard was grassy and bright, and covered with a glass dome. Razor beams of sunlight projected from every direction and made the moist blades of grass shine like diamond nuggets. In the back was a row of rooms where she could see servants scuttle back and forth.

Dudh-wala had arrived with his buffalo and was washing its udders in readiness to deliver farm fresh, unadulterated milk. Pankha-wala had settled in his alcove to pull the rope of the pankha and keep the bedrooms cool. Pani-wala had his pails balanced at the ends of a bamboo stick strung across his shoulder and was off to fetch water from the well. She saw the chaukidar, the mali and the cook, all moving about to-and-fro.

Radha’s birthday frock was also starched to perfection and ready for her to wear. It lay on a chair in the corner of her room. It was made of fine organza with a print of polka dots in two shades of green, two shades of blue, two shades of red and her favorite color—eggplant.

When Radha’s mother woke her up, she rubbed sleep off her eyes and looked around in dismay. There was no bungalow, no frock, no celebration.

“But why,” Radha cried. “Isn’t it my birthday?”

“We are not the Angrezi-log. We are Indian people. We don’t celebrate birthdays like the British,” her mother quipped. “You need to get dressed in your uniform and go to school like any other day. Today, I will prepare a special meal and feed the poor children in our community. Don’t you understand the logic? We need to pay homage to the gods who gave you this life and gave you an opportunity to go to a good school.”

Mother could not forget the loss of three babies before she gave birth to Radha. With Lord’s grace Radha had survived the perils of infancy. Radha, however, was growing up in the trails of the British Raj, attending an English run convent school, celebrating friends’ birthdays with candles and cakes. She could not understand the logic.



Note: All of the art, writing, and music on this site belongs to the person who created it. Copying or republishing anything you see here without express and written permission from the author or artist is strictly prohibited.