Maria was clearly disturbed. I asked her what was wrong and she began to tear up. I’m becoming used to seeing her tear up.
“Our shop….it burned down in the night.”
This is the Maria whose sister Alia became extremely ill with tuberculosis last month. Who has had two other sisters with chronic illness. Whose father wasn’t able to work for weeks while he managed his daughter’s care.
Diwali is celebrated with many fireworks and firecrackers and those fire kite things that float through the sky. At around 3:30pm on the second night of the celebration, a fire started in one of the recycling areas of our slum. Two shops and three motorcycles were burned.
One of those shops was the livelihood of Maria’s father, the recycler.
I tried to comfort her as she held back further tears, but what can you say? This sequence has played out for so many of my friends – one bad thing, and then another, then another, most of them unrelated but all piling together to compound the difficulty.
The next morning I woke up thinking about the ruined shop. The skies were gray again, as they’ve been all day every day since Diwali started.