She walked through barren lands. In the wandering scent of dead teak trunks, she looked for broken twigs and branches. Trees dried, and died where they stood. Save the unrelenting brown, there was nothing that stirred here. Neither the forest nor its creatures. She tripped on the root of a large teak tree; her feet bare, her phetiya torn to shreds at its edges. Mangli bai steadied her pace, one last time. She had walked these paths before.
That was the first time we saw her. “She never had any children. She couldn’t conceive. Her husband married another woman. Someone, he thought, who’d give him a boy. She too couldn’t give him a child. He is dead now. His second wife died, years later. Mangli bai has no family left. She lives all alone. Even today, she works to feed herself,” said Vasanth, the young man we first met at Seri Bikkanahalli Thanda.
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