A Suitable Boy
She was quite pretty too in those days; indeed, perhaps she still was. But for some reason none of her boyfriends remained boyfriends for long. She had a very decided personality and fairly soon took to telling them what they should do with their lives and studies and work. She began to mother them or perhaps brother them (since she was something of a tomboy) - and this sooner or later took the edge off their romantic excitement. They even began to find her vivacity over-powering, and sooner or later edged away from her - with guilt on their side and pain on hers. This was a great pity, for Kalpana Gaur was a lively, affectionate, and intelligent woman, and deserved some recompense for the help and happiness she gave others.
There was just enough room for the tonga to get through among the bullock-carts, rickshaws, cycles and pedestrians who thronged both the road and the pavement--which they shared with barbers plying their trade out of doors, fortune-tellers, flimsy tea-stalls, vegetable-stands, monkey-trainers, ear-cleaners, pickpockets, stray cattle, the odd sleepy policeman sauntering along in faded khaki, sweat-soaked men carrying impossible loads of copper, steel rods, glass or scrap paper on their backs as they yelled 'Look out! Look out!' in voices that somehow pierced though the din, shops of brassware and cloth (the owners attempting with shouts and gestures to entice uncertain shoppers in), the small carved stone entrance of the Tinny Tots (English Medium) School which opened out onto the courtyard of the reconverted haveli of a bankrupt aristocrat, and beggars--young and old, aggressive and meek, leprous, maimed or blinded--who would quietly invade Nabiganj as evening fell, attempting to avoid the police as they worked the queues in front of the cinema-halls. Crows cawed, small boys in rags rushed around on errands (one balancing six small dirty glasses of tea on a cheap tin tray as he weaved through the crowd) monkeys chattered in and bounded about a great shivering-leafed pipal tree and tried to raid unwary customers as they left the well-guarded fruit-stand, women shuffled along in anonymous burqas or bright saris, with or without their menfolk, a few students from the university lounging around a chaat-stand shouted at each other from a foot away either out of habit or in order to be heard, mangy dogs snapped and were kicked, skeletal cats mewed and were stoned, and flies settled everywhere: on heaps of foetid, rotting rubbish, on the uncovered sweets at the sweetseller's in whose huge curved pans of ghee sizzled delicioius jalebis, on the faces of the sari-clad but not the burqa-clad women, and on the horse's nostrils as he shook his blinkered head and tried to forge his way through Old Brahmpur in the direction of the Barsaat Mahal.