By Deborah Ellis
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Extra info for No Ordinary Day
Mukerjee took me inside and closed the door. “I’m going back to bed,” she said. “Human beings were not meant to be awake this early. My goodness, you are filthy. I’m going to stick you on the roof for now. ” We climbed up the stone steps, higher and higher. I thought of the woman who was not my aunt, making the long climb up out of the coal pit. I had never been in a building with so many stairs! I smiled and waved at the sleepy women I saw as I looked into the rooms that opened out onto the landing.
The children laughed and pointed. ” I had to laugh at that, even though it made her madder. Her father spent all his time coughing up blood, hitting my aunt and drinking up all the money my aunt made carrying coal. I knew Elamma wanted to hit me for laughing, but she couldn’t hit me without letting go of me, and if she let go of me I was going to bolt. So I got away with laughing at her. But not for long. She dragged me through the village. She was strong from so many years of lifting and carrying babies.
I had been told my parents were dead. I had never met them, so I didn’t think about them. Now I thought about them. I decided Elamma was lying. But I had to be sure. I headed over to the pit where I knew my aunt was working. I sat on the edge of the pit, dangled my feet and waited. The pit was so big our whole village could be dropped into it and there would still be room left over. Dust rose up from the coal diggers at the bottom and from the feet of the women climbing in and out of the pit. I could hear the sound of pickaxes hitting rock.