“Di, what would have happened to us if you had married Vasant ten years ago? What then?” asked Suraj. He looked at Aparna, his sister, with a puzzled look. He always called her Di, or short for Didi, or elder sister.
It was a usual Monday morning in Aparna’s house.

Suraj stared out from the window that looked into the lane. The galli they lived in was a regular narrow Old Delhi lane. It had thelawallahs with long hand carts, and green and yellow CNG based three wheeler auto rickshaws, and electrical wires running across the street in two dozen places. It had small Maruti cars parked on the side creating bottlenecks for all traffic on the street. It had red and yellow signboards at all angles. It had goats and pigs running confused, occasionally chewing on paper trash and garbage lying carelessly in the corners.

“There’s no point in speculating now. I don’t want you to get late to work. It’s just your second day.” Aparna had to get to work too and was in a hurry.

“I hate Monday mornings.”

“Try to keep this job, Suraj” Aparna looked concerned. She was eating her aloo parathaswith mango pickle. It was not so happy always, she thought. The maid cleared the dishes when she finished.

Aparna looked at herself in the mirror. She adjusted her cotton sari and cleaned her spectacles with a cloth, before deciding that she looked decent enough as a civil servant. The starch on her sari was stiff, and she looked austere enough to deal with the problems of government.

“Ten years and I can still fit into the same clothes I will bet”, she told her mirror image.

On the other hand, Vasant would have said, the wonderful thing about saris is that they come in one size – five yards long, she thought.

Her official car was waiting, and the driver was a polite Malyalee who saluted her as she got in. As the car pulled out of the gully, she said a little prayer to the Lord.
“Thank you”, she said softly, “for giving me the strength and the courage to do what I have to.”