It’s a three block walk to the mudir dokan. It sells plates, and her daughter just broke one while trying to eat some begun bhorta.
That’s been her favorite dish since she was a child, with her mother sitting beside her, mashing charred eggplant into a mix with some chili flakes and mustard oil. It reminded her of home even though she was now in the big city.
The owner of the mudir dokan, on the corner of a busy street somehow protected from the country’s sudden glamour, knows her. They had crossed paths yesteryear when she first moved to the city. Though she had found a job that allowed her to take care of her daughter, she still felt incomplete—or, more importantly, others made her feel that way.
So, she was pleasantly surprised when she came with her daughter to the store that first Saturday evening. She asked him for a pair of plates and utensils, and he said nothing.
The silence meant acceptance. At other locations, she would hear, “Don’t you need another for the father?” or “Will your daughter eat off the ground?” He had said nothing and instead offered colorful options to the daughter.
The daughter had grinned in her newly found wonder.
Somewhere in the seconds of acceptance, she felt the weight of an invisible burden lift, one she had been carrying for years. Her shoulders alive, her breath free, her days suddenly hers.
Tonight, she goes to buy a new plate for her daughter who, a year older, has never asked for a third plate.
And the shopkeeper does not offer. He knows better. He knows the weight of a plate is more than it seems.