Afternoon — the light swims in through the narrow blinds, a shoal of silver fish with sequins for eyes. On my back upon the cold red floor, cold and beautiful, I watch him sleep — silver fishes dancing on his forearms. Below the lanes tremble with laughter, the tension of unnamed games and pornography, shaved ice cones slathered in kalakhatta. A pair of eyes meet, a tinge of fire burns the face. Mothers sleep: always the cotton saari, always the hair mid-parted and pulled back, always the sindoor, the red and white bangles, always the legs drawn to the chest. A man sells pickles in a lopsided cart. Dust rises like artisan foam, sprouts thin wings and wanders off. Later the bodies will drop, exhausted and lace-like, upon everything.

©Mohana Das

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