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A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016

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page 11  

Brijesh Raj – India


EBB


My picnic reverie is broken by the news. Not that the faux street food and too loud Bollywood music fascinates me, but the mien of the South Bombay elite is interesting to say the least.

The music follows as whisper, into the home I visit next door. In the old retainer’s bedroom, it is shut out altogether.

The man had raised the lady of the house. Protected her from her schizophrenic mother’s violent rages. Later accompanied her as ‘dowry’ to be cook, housekeeper and daytime pet foster. Our lives had overlapped in this space. Me, the Labrador’s veterinarian, him quietly mindful of my ministrations.

‘Zizou has barely left his side, since he has been pronounced terminally ill with inoperable cancer. He leaves for his village tomorrow, to be with family. I have identified three good hospitals nearby, in case of emergency. Please do not discuss his malady with him. He will get depressed,’ my client says looking stricken.

I try to smile and greet the old man nonchalantly. The once jovial, weathered face, now gaunt and ashen, grimaces in reply. He looks away, toward the window, ostensibly lost in thought. And waits. I pat his shoulder, wish him a speedy recovery and turn away.

“He knows”, I tell my client at the door and leave. The music comes crashing back but it does not hurt my ears anymore.

waterfall in summer
the rock-face overrun
by tiny red crabs

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