A long time ago, not too far away, in the mountains there lived a girl. Life was difficult and luck didn't really care to be with her family. So, bread didn't come easily to them and butter was a thing they had never heard of. However, like those close knit families, they lived together and were happy. Well, the last word, the adjective that I used to describe their life has never been analogous to the reality, more so, it was untrue. Meager flow of money came from the small bead shop that Sulekha worked in. Yes, her name was Sulekha but people in that small village called her Dolly. The name, Sulekha, had been long forgotten. Dolly, it was now. She had no idea what that name meant but she knew where it had come from. 3 months before she was due to be born, abba had gone to buy beads from the city. Someone had told him that he would get cheaper bead there but he had been fooled. However, while he was returning, he heard the name Dolly, and decided that if he had a daughter he would call her by that name. Likewise, Dolly wished her kids to have English names too, though she was 15 years old and unmarried. Maybe, she will one day.
So, Dolly was her name. Totally opposite to her name's meaning, she was not good looking and nowhere resembled a doll. Those who live in the mountains are known to be somewhat fair. And so were the inhabitants of Gauchar, the small village where Dolly lived in. But her skin was pale and dark. People would laugh at her ugliness. Teasings continued from morning till night. They stopped only when everybody retired into their beds. That was the only time when she was at peace. The only time when she could see something else that was darker than her. And she felt relieved.
It was November. For the inhabitants for Gauchar, November would always bring a smile onto their otherwise sad faces. It was the time for the annual mela of Gauchar. Traders from northern India came to their small village. It was a time to rejoice for Dolly as money wouldn't be a problem. She knew she would manage to earn atleast that much which would last for the next 6 months. Every year she would eagerly wait for November to come. Though she bought inexpensive beads and sold them the year round, she would save the best ones for the mela. Infact, for this event, she crafted each bead with great detail. Her father started earning when he found some beads lying near bridge perhaps abandoned by thieves. He made an income out of those and hence got into this field. When he became too old to travel, his daughter took over. Dolly, at once, fell in love with the beads. Earlier she would travel down the hill to buy these tiny colourful round and square pieces. Now she made them on her own. Every single day.
And tomorrow was the first day of the mela, her chance to sell those beads to the wives of those wealthy traders and the travellers. This year she had spent all her savings in crafting new type of beads which she had come across on one of her visits to the city. Beads in different shapes and sizes were her speciality. But this time she had developed beads for adorning the hair. She had hoped that it would sell. And very soon she would have money to buy that green saree for amma and that stark white kurta for abba. Away from all the hustle bustle and from the ongoing sarcastic comments about her skin, she quietly lay on the bed. She glanced at the the table covered with beads. Though she was sleepy, she did not want to sleep. She joyfully imagined travellers buying her beads. Smiling, she imagined every single day of the mela and how happy it would make her. She imagined her mother in that saree and her father in that kurta. They looked amazing together. She made a mental note to call the camera wala bhaiya and ask him to take a picture of them together. She did not know how much it would cost but she would pay him. Dolly didn't know when she had fallen asleep and all that she had seen was just a dream. She never woke up. She never saw the tomorrow she had been eagerly waiting for. There were no travellers. There were no traders. There was no fun. But there were beads still lying on the table.
Really, luck didn't care to be with her family.