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“This one’s too broken now. It’s about time to go get a new one,” said Sai, the husband, taking a long drag at his cigarette. He waved the smoking hand at the figure that sat crumpled before him, not caring for the ash that fell on it.

Babba, the father-in-law, grunted in agreement, not even bothering to move his eyes from the television where Mr. Aditya Ray, the sole person to whom Babba had given his trust, sat behind a shiny desk and read the news. These days Babba never spoke. The only time he ever had anything to say was when there was something that he did not agree with going on- even then he did not speak, he yelled.

The figure, which had been sitting still, flinched weakly at Sai's voice, then went even more still hoping no one had noticed the slight movement. While trying not to, Sai's words made the figure think of when It was new. The past suddenly seemed like a different world to the figure. With an unnoticeable shudder, It watched as the worlds It had thought dead slowly came back to life.

It remembered the time before It was born- because this was a story that It had heard before It had learnt It’s own name. It remembered that It was supposed to be Veer. But, as Its Abba had said, as Its Ammi had said, as so many others had said, It had come instead. It remembered that Its name was a silent elegy for Veer, with a syllable tacked to the end as if to show how a perfect thing was changed, altered, ruined.

It remembered long days where It was taught the art of staying still. Of listening yet not thinking. Of violence that had to be covered in silence. Of never speaking. Of smiling and head bowing.

It remembered short days by watersides where It was let free. It remembered those days where It ran barefoot, like a caged bird that saw the sky for the first time. Some moments in those days, It was She, and She was breathing. She had a name that was hers, and it hung around her like a necklace, not an albatross. She was loud and She looked and She thought and She flew.

It came back to Its world, not wanting to invade hers anymore. It glanced up at Sai, who, still smoking, was staring at Mr. Aditya Ray along with Babba.

It knew what Sai meant. They wanted a Veer before It was too broken. It knew that if it wasn’t a Veer then it would be a girl, would be an alien in a world that was hers but she was not welcome in. It knew this was how it was supposed to be. It knew that any name she would be given would be preceded by a story of loss. That she would be given a name that was an elegy. That she would be taught words she did not speak and thoughts she could not think. It knew that this was how it was supposed to be.

Sai, the husband, would say so. Babba, the father-in-law, would say so. Mr. Aditya Ray, the man who sat behind a desk in the television, would say so. But It realised It could not speak if this was the language. It realised that It, She would not say so. She would change the future so that it was a different world. She would name her Veera, and the name would be an epic dedicated to her. She would wait, and listen, and this time, she would hear her breathe.


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