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Meet Bijli, Mehar’s bicycle!

Unfair by Rasil Ahuja is a wonderful fictional tale of determination and finding comfort and assurance in friendships. It celebrates self-love, accepting oneself and having body confidence. Meet two best friends, Lina and Meher who are ready to break all the biases and prejudices the society puts on those having dark skin tone in this delightful excerpt!

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‘I’m leaving!’ I shout. To no one in particular. ‘Whaaaat? What? Where are you going?’ Daadi shouts back. She’s lying on the sofa, a hot water bottle resting on her ample belly.

‘Lina’s house, Daadi!’ Oof!

‘You told Ekta?’

‘Yes, Daadi, I called Mama at the clinic.’ ‘When you’ll be back?’

‘Next year!’ I grumble, pushing against the front door. Maybe India’s RAW should hire Daadi as an interrogator.

The sound of the door slamming muffles my grandmother’s high-pitched ‘Oye, listen! The sun is high. Don’t come back black!’

I roll my eyes. Daadi says the weirdest things sometimes.

I grab my bicycle by the handlebars and yank it out from under the carport. It flashes in the afternoon sun.

That’s how I got the idea of naming her Bijli.

Not very creative, but it works.

Bijli’s not exactly my first bike, but she is my first real bike. I outgrew training wheels at the age of eight and only because I had to. Our neighbours had grown old and were tired of watching me learn riding on a bike so small that my knobby knees would hit my chin every time I pushed down on the pedals. They took pity on me and gifted me their granddaughter’s old bike.

So that was actually my first bike. Too big for training wheels but small enough that if I fell, the ground wouldn’t be too far. Safety comes first in my book. I mean, why take unnecessary risks?

But that’s old news.
Bijli is new. Bijli is blue. Bijli is electric.
I wash and buff her every morning. Yep, every single morning since my parents gave her to me two weeks ago—an early birthday gift, they claimed. But an entire ten months early? I guess they noticed my still knobby knees were reaching my chin again.

A whole lot of dos and don’ts accompanied this early birthday gift.

‘No biking on main roads,’ Mama had said.

‘No biking on any roads during rush hour,’ Papa had chimed in.

‘When isn’t there traffic in Delhi, Papa?’ I’d asked.

‘You know what we mean, Meher.’ My mother shushed me with a stern tone. ‘Just bike in open and safe areas. No isolated or dark places. Got it?’

Front cover of Unfair
Unfair || Rasil Ahuja

I got it, I got it. But where are the large open spaces? I mean, maybe Nehru Park or Lodhi Gardens. But that’s only possible on weekends when one of my parents can drive me there because they won’t let me bike there alone.

And that brings me to another problem. The new car is too small to hold Bijli. Only our ready-to-croak- any-second SUV is big enough for anything.

It’s no secret that Basanti—may she have a long life—is possibly the more favoured child in our family. I once caught Papa trying to wrap his long arms around her, like a hug, if you can actually hug a car.

He wasn’t even embarrassed when I caught him in the act.

Auditions are on for the seventh grade annual play. Lina sets her heart and sights on the lead role, but the drama teacher seems to think Lina isn’t the right shade for the part. Meher finds maths far more interesting, and less dramatic, than Macbeth. When her extroverted BFF, Lina, suddenly becomes distraught and withdrawn, Meher tries to figure out what she may have done wrong, but things just don’t seem to add up.

~

Step into the world of Unfair to know more about Meher, and meet Lina as they go through life in the seventh grade!

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