“What brings you all here?” Rama asked as if she didn’t know the answer.
Seven-year-old Nagina climbed into Rama’s lap. “We’re here to say good night,” the child said with great solemnity.
“Good night, then,” Rama responded.
A chorus of giggles broke out. “No, no there’s more to do,” an older girl said.
Rama looked surprised. “I see. Did you wash your faces and behind your ears?”
More giggles and smiles.
“Yes,” they said together.
“Padma, come here. Let me look behind your ears.”
Padma came forward dropping her scarf to expose her bald head. Rama raised the lamp to closely examine Padma’s ears. The children shrieked their laughter.
“Yes, you have two ears. And they’re both clean,” Rama announced. “Padma, your hair’s starting to grow. I’m pleased. Soon I won’t be able to see your ears.”
“Padma, is there anything more to do before you go to bed?”
Nagini whispered in Padma’s ear.
“Pandita Ramabai, please forgive me, Nagini says I must ask you for a kiss good night.”
“Yes, yes,” the children cried, “a kiss good night.”
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