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Frocks and Braids

I blinked the sleep out of my eyes. The light outside was still soft and musky. Still groggy, I was wondering what woke me up so early on a Sunday. And then I heard it again, the laughter. I pried the windows open and peered through the railing. Light streamed in and by the time my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I could hear more laughter. Unhindered, unshackled, carefree laughter. I smile spread on my lips as well, as my spirits lifted on the sight I beheld. A huge group of giggling and screaming girls were playing on the swings and slides outside. That garden always used to be empty, barren and forlorn. And suddenly, this morning, it had been graced by the cheerful presence of these girls. All the joints of those metal structures creaked, not in protest, but in joy as they fulfilled their purpose at all. I just leaned on the window sill and watched the girls run about in their frocks and braids. I smiled and remembered my own childhood, as carefree as the apparition in front of me. Scraped knees, muddy palms, and torn shorts were always a part of my childhood, followed by a hot water bath where my mother scrubbed me to cleanliness…



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