In the pious land of West Bengal, there was a small city named Ranthipur. Though the city was small, the culture of the place was that of highly educated and aristocratic standards where maximum people only knew how to show factitious mannerism. The houses, the roads, the people, all screamed money and class. However their mentality didn’t matched their living standards. They always created class difference, either on financial background or communal background.

Among these low- minded people, there was one soul who remained secluded from everyone and everything, Paridhi. She actually didn’t fit that so- called perfectionist society. After all she was crippled, her hands didn’t had any finger and so she couldn’t write or do any work using her hands. Whenever she went out with her parents, the other children mocked her, made fun of her and passed comments that not only used to hurt the little girl but also broke her dreams and her hope of living in this cruel world. She slowly lost her smile, her charm and after a few weeks, she just locked herself up within the confines of her room. Her entire world was surrounded by darkness, a darkness that she embraced too quickly. Her parents were scared for her. They knew she was broken and desolated. But they couldn’t do a thing to bring their daughter out of her misery.

One day, Paridhi’s aunt came to pay her a visit. She was a darling for Neharika and Paridhi too loved her aunt. If she confined herself to anyone, it was Neharika and when Paridhi heard about it, she was beyond ecstatic. After five long weeks she finally came out of her room and eagerly waited for her aunt to come. “Paridhi, calm down. She will come within fifteen minutes. Your dad just called me and told that they are already here”, her mother explained her while trying to contain her own smile. After all her daughter looked happy even if her smile didn’t reached upto her eyes. No sooner the bell rang and Paridhi ran towards the door and pulled it open. The person in front of her eyes brought a genuine smile on her face and she hugged Neharika with her little hands. “Maasi, I missed you so much”, she exclaimed in happiness while her parents let out a small laugh at her excitement. Neharika too returned the gesture and then both of them went inside.

The morning went by in Paridhi opening her gifts with her toes and each time she saw the gift, she felt as if she was on cloud nine. The gift opening exhausted her and after bidding her aunt a goodbye she went inside her room. After Neharika heard the click sound of the lock, she turned towards her parents with a serious face. “What happened to her?”, on this question Paridhi’s mother let out a sob and her father’s face fell. “We don’t know what to do Neha”, her father suddenly spoke up in a defeated voice, “we can’t protect our daughter from the evils of this society. The children in our community mocked her and after one day, she just locked herself up in that room. After five long weeks I’m seeing my daughter smiling. I don’t want to lose her Neha, we don’t want to lose her!”.

Neharika’s heart constricted with pain as she listened carefully to all the details her sister and her brother- in- law gave her. Finally when they were done, Neharika took a deep breath and stood up. “Sis, I’m going to take Paridhi with me. She will live with me in my NGO and she will live her life like everyone else. I promise you, one day she will be able to give the answers to all those mockery and insults.”, saying this she went in Paridhi’s room. When Paridhi heard about this, she was beyond being happy and happily agreed to the plan. She left the house next morning and went to her aunt’s NGO. There she was accepted as a normal person and as days passed she felt what it is to be loved and accepted in a community.

Days changed into months and months to years. Paridhi fought back her fears and completed her college. She learned to write with her toes and pursued Ph.D in history. Her results were outstanding and she was soon chosen in the Archaeological Survey of India as the head Historian of the Egypt excavation team. That day she returned back to her home, to her parents. The news of her getting honoured by the Chief Minister spread like fire. People of her earlier community stood along the pathway to welcome her.
They couldn’t even identify that little girl whom everyone used to laugh at. When she was asked to tell something at the function that was being organised on her honour, she smiled sadly and grabbed the microphone tightly. “I don’t want to relive my horrible past. But I would like to say something that I have waited for so long to say. Never make fun of people like us. We are not normal like you all but still I’m here, standing on this podium and receiving congratulations from those people who insulted me twenty years ago. I’m crippled but that didn’t make me an outcast. I was physically crippled, something which I couldn’t help. But people like you are mentally crippled. Thank you”, everyone noticed the way her eyes shed one single tear but no one noticed the innumerable tears she had shed everyday.

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