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I knew the alphabet from A to Z
I could also recite it in reverse right from Z to A
But I didn’t know so many combinations of the alphabet were possible
When joined together they could form such big meaningful words

ICDS and ICPS – the difference of but a letter yet two big independent things they say
One meant for my development and the other one for my protection – maybe they think I may go astray
There is a PDS, something called an NFSA also, I gather
I am always bad at short forms and full forms, these are things I can never remember

But one of these words I admit I am particularly fond of
Because it is not a collection of ominous words forced to fit into an abbreviation
It is rather a sweet and short word, something the sound of which I like, and I can easily remember
It is called Aadhaar and it is supposed to be the end of all our strife

So, my mother and I we have dutifully got enrolled
I remember I had held on to her hand tightly on the way to the Centre, lest she sun away, our roles are mostly reversed
I was delighted when we had got the cards shiny and colorful with our pictures and names on it
We didn’t have any extra food on our plates that day, it was just as usual, scraping by a meal a day

Yet I was feeling big and important somehow, for the owner of something so important I had become now
I was also feeling a sense of responsibility on my shoulders, so I remember I had put a share of my food on the plates of my two younger sisters

In the coming few days and months I remember feeling a bit confused though
I had the card alright now but its magical qualities it had not begun to show
Most of the days still went by scraping for one meal a day and most nights were spent lying awake in the hopes of the magic occurring the next day

Then suddenly my father came home one day drunk much more than usual
His rickshaw had been stolen and naturally we got a little more thrashed than normal
Our one square meal a day of course had to be dispensed with
There were other important things to be taken care of and soon nothing remained important any longer everything became normal just to be lived with

I had informed in the school that I am going to my village
Somehow, I felt that it was my duty to do so otherwise they just might be worried

Then a day passed two days three four five six and then I lost the ability to count further
My younger sisters had become silent long back, unable to cry anymore
They were also younger so may be their energies lasted that much lesser

I remember having a dull pain always in my stomach
I don’t know I was asleep or awake, but I remember dreaming of parathas and samosas and jalebies often
I had seen them being cooked on the way to my school almost daily
I had longed to eat them so many times but still never dreamt of them before, but now I was thinking of them solely

Then one day suddenly I vomited, I don’t know what came out of me, may be my dreams had caused me indigestion I thought

After that I only remember waking up now, that dull pain is gone and so are my dreams
I can’t see my sisters anywhere, want to ask them if their pain is also gone
I only see so many people talking to my parents, such big cameras in their hands I had never seen before
But I will search for my sisters some other time for I am just feeling happy right now
I am no longer hungry, I am no longer hungry, I have never felt so full before….

Nivedita Dwivedi is a writer from Mumbai

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