The Summer of Learning Added£0.99
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(A short story of 2260 words)

The Summer of Learning


by Susmita Bhattacharya

A young girl's coming of age in her father's homeland.

When Lali stole Dad’s money, she also stole my childhood. I was on the trip of a lifetime. My Dad’s family, tucked away in a little town in India, might as well have been on a different planet. I’d never seen them, until that summer when Dad managed to save money for ‘the trip’ he had been preparing for ever since I could remember.

We arrived one hot sweaty night. The air was so muggy I felt I was breathing something solid. It buzzed with insects; the mosquitoes at once attracted to our smooth pale skin. Mam was quiet, and that was unusual. She looked straight ahead, ignoring the bustle and noise around us in the railway station that smelled of strong chemical and piss. I could see she was nervous. I pulled my overnight case, its spotless candyfloss pink looking proud amongst the dusty, battered suitcases piled carelessly on top of porters’ heads.

We spent the first night in a hotel in Delhi, before the train journey onto Dad’s hometown. Mam was finally excited, as she’d never stayed in a hotel before. A room with ‘Ateched bathroom and running hot water’ as the advert promised. We took endless cold water showers, just to cool ourselves. The hot water, supposedly a selling point, was wasted on us. We lounged on the crisp cotton sheets and ordered room service of big tandoori chicken legs and real naan bread, and watched Indian telly...

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