Anu was very good at wearing her brand new set of payal (anklets). She wore them every day, everywhere, only taking them off when she waded in the dirty lake behind her slum home, and to clean herself under the rickety plastic shower head at the communal bath. She would wrap her jewels in her dirtier clothes, place them beneath her towel, and keep an eye on the small bundle as she scrubbed.
Anu could only feel the light bounce of silver payal against the skin of her skinny ankles when she ran to school, ran back home, ran in the streets, to the shops, ran after people in the temple grounds to sell lotus flowers, ran after her toddler siblings, ran in the rain, ran and ran for the faint tinkle of a small ghungroo(a silver,often bronze bell in the shape of a flower) close to the clasp of the payal.
Anu loved the contrast of silver against the darkness of her skin, her body language hinting at the novelty, thin and draped semi loosely, as she danced alone in the cramped living room of her home. No one was there when she decided to dance, her parents were at their respective work places, her brothers asleep. If one were to look, however, one would indefinitely be dancing along to the same jumble of tunes wafting over from the neighbors’ homes.
Anu sat, sometimes, on the warping wooden deck at the shore of the lake, singing her own songs, twisting her ankles and hitting them lightly against each other, iterating the monosyllabic note to soothe her nerves. Eventually, she lies on her back in silence, placing her feet up on the deck, only tapping occasionally, drifting off to where all she had to do was twirl, hop and skip to hear the tinkle, the daintiest tinkle.