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The Price of a Smile

“My name is Namrata. I am ten years old. I like singing and dancing. What is your name? Where are you from? My mother works here. I have a brother and two sisters. What are you doing here? You didn’t tell me what your names are?” she went on without taking a breath.

“My name is Prachi and she is my friend Mitali. We are from Ahmedabad.” I replied chuckling.

“We are going to organize a summer camp here. Would you like to come? We are going to teach many activities like dancing, paper craft, cooking, etc. Tomorrow we are going to show a cartoon movie.” continued Mitali.

“Cartoon Movie? Yay!” squealed Namrata.

“Yes, 9:00 in the morning at Sarpanch office. Come with your brother and sisters.” I said.

Next few days went by as planned. Namrata used to attend classes everyday with her elder brother. Then the day came when I asked Namrata to get the fees of summer camp, a petty amount required for registrations. Next day, only her brother attended the camp. On asking, he said that his mother wouldn’t allow Namrata to attend the camp as fees were high for them. Namrata looked as if she was about to cry as she waved a weak goodbye to Mitali and me. We stood there, helpless.

After a lot of retrospection, I knew what I had to do. On my way, the next day, Mitali and I offered to pay Namrata’s fees. So as soon as we reached the village we went to the construction site. There we saw her mother. We gave her a receipt which stated that Namrata’s admission fees were paid. She looked confused and then she realised what actually happened. She thanked us for doing it and gave us her blessings.

Story by:

Prachi Virani


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