I was sitting on the first floor of their home. Simple and full, the family welcomed me in. The kite festival dancing loud on the rooftops. I was treated with warmth, my belly full of food that was shared with me. The father of the family, the mother, Hemant, and I all had snuck away to do a secret but thrilling task.
“Do you take the drink?” Hemant had whispered to me the day before. He dropped me off to wait for him when he went to buy liquor. Nervous and excited, possibly even a little bit rebellious, we took sips of whiskey. Although he called every kind of alcohol wine. “Please don’t tell my family, they don’t know I take the drink,” he reminded me. We were careful not to go to his home where his family might smell our breath.
Hemant is 25.
And now we were here, sitting with his neighbors, about to secretly have sips of alcohol again. It was so silly and innocent. The mom of the home, who had given me gifts in the form of henna hand tattoos and even beautiful metal earings, poured us small glasses of the bitter liquid.
Their daughter had joined us. She was a mere seven years old, but carried the confidence of a teenager. She gaped at me,
“You! You take the…” she said motioning at her mouth. And then covered it in shock with an open palm and wide eyes. I smiled at her and giggled. She sat next to me, as I shared drinks with her family and Hemant. Her father even included her in taking sips of whiskey. She smiled even through the bitter disgust. I think she was happy to be included.