Dawn broke early, at this time of the year in The Punjab. The sound of the Koel’s call for its mate, had begun as the sky brightened. It was this incessant sound, more than the sun on her face, through the window slats that woke her. She was getting a new mother later in the day, the very thought of loving arms and a soft breast to rest against, filled the little girl’s heart with feelings of warmth and comfort. She had difficulty trying to remember her own mother, who she had lost to the Plague when she was only fourteen months old. Her eldest sister, Harbansa, fourteen years her senior, had taken care of her for a year, then left the village, with the man their father had arranged to marry her. Girls were married early in this part of the Punjab. Parents began searching for appropriate grooms for their daughters as soon as they became nubile. Her father, Sardarilal, had hired a woman from the village, just for her. She called her Bhua, aunty, as it would have been impolite to call an adult by her name. It was Bhua’s duty to bathe and dress her, and see that she drank her milk every morning from a tall silver glass. Bhua spent half an hour every day brushing her young charge’s hair, which hung down almost to the little girl’s heels. She had been told at the time she was interviewed for the job, that the child’s hair should never get knotted. Her employer did not want this daughter’s hair, cut. She was the last child he had had with his beloved wife, and was the most precious of all his children. It was because of her that he had decided to marry again. Though Bhua’s care was satisfactory, he felt that his children could do with a mother, and he, with a companion in his bed. He had chosen a woman of low birth, with the view that she would be domesticated and undemanding. He had been married twice before. Both wives were from wealthy families. His first wife, Sita, gave him a son within the first year that they were married, and died in childbirth.