Amala gingerly reached out for the high shelf. The stool that gave an instant 2 feet lift didn’t help much as she kept stumbling due to the Carpenters’ partiality on the stool’s legs.
“Careful, pick all the cups. Don’t miss any,” Preetha instructed, watching Amala pick the ‘winner’ cups and medals one by one.
“Hmmm!” she acknowledged and inched closer, – stumbling a bit with every movement – to pick a few more from the last row. “Why do these people leave all these items here? I have to mount this rickety stool every time to pick these,” she pondered.
“Ha, yes…yes… Drive straight from that chill eatery for about 20 minutes and then take a left. Mine is the fifth apartment on your left. A big board would read ‘Nanditha Apartments’,” Preetha was talking over the phone as she strolled across the lobby.
Amala slinked into the room and saw Preetha talking animatedly in front of the mirror. “Thank you! I feel privileged, and I thank my parents who encouraged me. This award means a lot to me; I will strive harder to help other needy children who are in need of good education–,”
“Huh… what?” she furrowed her brows on noticing Amala.
“Heh… all done akka, all your medals, and winner cups are arranged in the hall.” Amala smiled.
“Huh, buy a 2 liter Mirinda bottle and biscuits from the shop nearby… take the money… it’s below the stabilizer on the fridge,” Preetha said and resumed her ebullient mono acting .
“Aunt told to help you set the wardrobe,” Amala hesitated, glancing at the clothes strewn all over the sofa set and table nearby. The clothes resembled icebergs, scattered here and there.
Preetha felt alarmed and hurried, bundlingthe clothes together in her hands.
“Thank God! It would have been such a mess in front of the interviewers,” she said and walked to her room, depositing the pile on her bed. “Hmmm! Is everything else fine?” she asked herself, admiring the reflection in the mirror.
“Heyyyy! welcome,” she shrilled in reply to the door bell and gave a tight hug to her Facebook friend Sonali who was working in a reputed magazine.
After a brief chat, Preetha positioned herself amidst the medals and took pictures anticipating the same on the magazine tomorrow.
“How did social service interest you? How did you manage to adopt the village along with your friends? What changes would you like to see in the future?” the questions lined up and she smiled like Cinderella in a pink frock while answering.
Amala walked in noiselessly and entered the kitchen. After minutes of waiting Preetha walked in angrily as Amala hadn’t brought the snacks for her guests.
“What the hell are you – huh… Hey, why are you weeping?” Preetha asked her with a puzzled face. “What happened?”
“Akka, the shop owner’s son teased me because my top is torn near the arms, can you please lend me a dupatta to cover it?” she choked out, sniffing.
“Sure!” said Preetha and walked out as her pride shattered.

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