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Simplified reader Naukar by Anya Sitaram

The sun shone on the streets of Calcutta as the rickshaw-whallah (man who pulls a carriage) worked his way down the road, while the rickshaw was scraping away at his skin. The man quickened his pase into a gallop. Julia Bannerjee shut her eyes as the rickshaw narrowly missed a bus. When and forward, out of she bent down turned her neck she could see the carriage.

Her vision was limited to the waist, hips and legs of the rickshaw- whalla. She thought it was horrible the way his bones stuck out. She hated travelling by rickshaw, because it was horrible to see a man working like a beast while transporting a richer being to its destination. Her husband said that not by not using the rickshaw, she would be keeping money from them.

Her husband, Nilkant Bannerjee, was a fine specimen of the woven men family in Calcutta. He had been send to England to get some work experience. There he had fallen in love with a beautiful English girl. Julia had been In India for almost a year now but was still not used to her new home. Even Nilkant seemed different in India, more arrogant. Sometimes she just wanted to shut herself away and forget because India had sharpened her senses to a bomb of new things which amazed her and made her feel sick. She was always afraid of going out into the streets full of people, animals, buses; chaos. She would return home exhausted. Going into the city ment opening and shutting of her senses every time. Calcutta smelled of poor people, death. Everywhere buildings were damaged and beggars lay on the streets like rubbish. Indias strange perfume of urine and bidis (sigarettes) did not pass her house by. When she wanted to ring a friend her phone would always be out of order. Authorities had been planning to work on it for over ten years but every time a hole was made the earth would cave. Why are they building an underground, she had asked Nilkant. If its obviously dangerous. He had smiled darkly. They are building it in the hope that one day the earth will sink and no more crowded streets. Julia would never forget the accident which happened in the first two weeks when she arrived. She and her husband saw an accident. A street boy came in front of a moving car. The driver was grabbed hold of and tore into pieces.

Two deaths were in the newspaper the next day. Julia Was worried by the relations between rich and poor. It was as if the Indians themselves could not see.

Julia and her rickshaw-wallah reached their destination. She wanted to help the man. She told the man to wait and rushed into the house. She took a couple of aloo paratas (spicy potato cakes) wrapped them in silver foil, a mango and a bottle of cold water. The man was sitting when she came back. She gave him the food, smiling. A few moments silent moments past. Whats wrong? she asked. Five rupees he said without looking at her. Julia realized she made a mistake. She gave the man twenty rupee and told him to keep the change. His face turned into an enormous smile and he thanked her a lot. Julia was really happy in that moment.

Nilkant Bannerjee usually came back home after work at six oclock every evening. He always looked forward to seeing his wife there. They would go out to a club or dinner or maybe to a cinema. Today he had a surprise for his wife. Darling, how would you like a dog? Nilkant said. Do you think it is right to have a dog in India Julia said in response. He was irritated by her. How can one have a dog in a country where most people cannot feed themselves? Very noble of you, my dear Nillkant said dryly. Look, you wouldnt think twice about having a dog in England, even though you know that there are people dying in the Third World. How can someone own a cat when poor people are at the gate? I dont think my sweet, that one little Labrador is going to make a difference to problems in the world. Whats next? You will be saying we cant have children because India is already full with helpless children. Al right, Nilkant, you have your dog.

Nilkant had already left for work when Julia went downstairs and called for breakfast. The cook came in and complained that there had been a goonda (layabout.) Julia looked through the half closed shutters of the drawing room window and saw the goonda sitting at the gate. She marched outside. The little man stood up quickly. I dont want to go shopping today, thank you, she said. Julia looked in her bag and gave him twenty rupee again, hoping he would leave. But he did not take the money. He told her he wanted a job. Nilkant was furious. Julia, you cant bring strangers into our home. I thought we needed a bearer. Sometimes he felt there was a wall between him and his wife. Fire him. Im not having him in my house. As usual, she was calmer than him. He

could hardly speak. Youre mad. For god sake, Julia, have some sense. Just give me this. Slowly, Julia, was getting used to her new life in Calcutta. The people, the flies and the dying were no longer as moving to her.

On their first wedding anniversary, her mother-in-law gave her a big golden necklace. One day, the servant disappeared and was nowhere to be found, for several days. Nilkant wasnt surprised. She got difficult with him by not being social towards him. Nilkant went to the club alone. The servant returned a week later in bruises. The poor man was knocked of his bike by a truck! Julia continued to be difficult with Nilkant. One night, they were supposed to dine at his parents house. She refused to wear the necklace. When Nilkant didnt look, she left it on the bed. When they got back, the necklace was gone. She had to sit down making sure she wouldnt fall to the ground. She looked for it everywhere. All she said the

whole time was; O my god. Nilkant found her like that. He couldnt have taken it.. Dont call the police, she asked. Of course hes guilty. Its obvious. Youre such a little idiot. For one day the house was being looked through thoroughly. The chief inspector asked questions like; Where exactly on the bed did you leave the necklace? For three days the rickshaw-wallah refused to admit to the crime, but he was beaten in such a way that he eventually gave in. Told you so, Nilkant said. Julia was still not convinced.

Weeks passed. One day when everything was almost forgotten, the inspector rang. We have found the necklace, he told her. Where did he hide it? There was a long silence. It wasnt hidden, Madam. We found it while arresting a famous criminal. Are you sure that it wasnt him? Yes, madam. All he had time to take was the first thing that he could find. That was the necklace on the bed. Outside, the man, her old servant, was free but she didnt feel any better. When she looked outside the window, she could make out a figure at the gate. She kept looking carefully unable to look away. And as she stared a pair of dark eyes met hers.