The year was 1994. The weather was warm, and the skies clear. On this precise day in April the world had its eyes set on television screens. Hearts proudly beaming in the South for the newly elected President of South Africa, while others wept over the appalling genocide that had begun in Rwanda. In the West, American citizens bit their nails with anticipation in regards to the outcome of the highly publicized OJ Simpson murder trials. Not much stirred in the East however. Well, not much that concerned the rest of the world that is. April of '94 was a year to remember in world history, but for one person in particular it would mark the beginning of the end.
Far off in the South Asian continent, we look to the noisy, crowded streets of Bangladesh, where sandwiched between a Beauty Parlor and a Kulfi stand stood a Bengali Sweet Shop. The owner of the Sweet Shop, Khaled Hussain, was currently enjoying his day off with his grandchildren in the tea gardens, reluctantly leaving the shop under the care of his youngest son, Mahmood. Sure Mahmood was lazy with the intellect of a mule but how hard could watching over the dukhan be for a day? The shop owner would later come to regret this decision seeing as his son had his face buried behind the pages a racy magazine, eyes glued to the scantily clad women, unbeknownst to the fact that a child was in the process of swiping expensive sweets from the store.
Rubi laughed as she hopped over a stack of newspapers and scampered down the street, ignoring the angry calls and profanity of the shop employee. The wind burned her eyes as she ran and her black hair streamed behind like a dark ribbon. Her tiny fingers gripped tightly to the bottom of her dirt-stained blue dress, careful not to drop the fabric that cradled the stolen delicacies.
Down the alleyways she darted, passing crowded buses and decorated rickshaws. Her world was a swirl of colors. At that moment, Rubi swore she could fly and it was exhilarating. Her sandals continued to slap the dirty asphalt and her heart pounded as she turned the corner towards the gates of her destination.
"Look what I have!" the child exclaimed, lungs hoarse as she simultaneously gasped for air.
"Dekho! Dekho!" she called again, catching her breath and slowing her steps as she neared the black gates.
Instead of a smiling face, Rubi was met with looks of despair. The child's toothy grin faded as a man she had not recognized fell to his knees and wailed out for God. At his sides were two weeping women, frantically clutching at the man's shoulders failing to lift him to his feet.
Rubi blinked in confusion at the scene in front of her. Her eyebrows furrowed until she met a pair of black eyes framed in spectacles from behind the gates. Rubi dropped the fabric holding up her pilfered treasures, allowing them to fall about her feet, no longer feeling anything.
April of 1994 was a year that would forever be burned in her retinas.
Author's Note: Well hell, I never thought I'd be writing again and definitely didnt think I'd be revisiting fictionpress either. Ah well, that's what procrastinating term papers will do to you. Le sigh.
Anyway who cares we're here for the story.
I know, I know, the prologue is super short. And vague. and hopefully not boring? Bear with me, its a slow start but it is steady and there IS a story about to unfold. This piece will feature a lot of bengali vocabulary but fear not! I'll be supplying translations at the end of every chapter so you can just brush up on your bengali and pretty soon you'll be spewing out foreign phrases and curse words! kidding. maybe.
Kulfi- its a frozen dairy popsicle that are really popular in Southern Asia. If you're ever in Toronto, New York, or anywhere else that has loads of south asian cuisine, I suggest you grab one. Its delicioso!
Dekho- simply means "look here."
-that's all folks! :)