She hugged her knees to her chest and thought about what one of the newscasters said, that O.J. might have been framed. She thought about all the people in the street around his house, about whether they thought he did it, about whether they cared.
She sat down, anger gone. Dissipated. Like a promised storm that never lands after the clouds are blown away by the wind. Alina didn’t go to Hira’s funeral. She would never open that chat again. After her phone broke, she didn’t throw it away. She packed it in a box, tissue paper at the edges and put it away in a drawer.
The shelves with Tarot books were so densely packed that I wondered if magic prevented them from collapsing. The books ranged from huge to small with covers from muddy brown to flaming yellow. I saw one that said it was the complete guide. I flipped through the pages and thought my mom might be dead before I got through the first half of the book.
I rushed to the living room, my feet carrying me with a sense of urgency that I had never experienced before, with a sense of anticipation of something sinister and something quite uncanny. I saw my mother kneeling beside his cursing body as he held her by the hair, her vitiligo white skin stained by his blood.
He smiled with a calm demeanor. When I looked at Sandeep, I saw that he was at peace with his thoughts. Here’s a man satisfied at making decisions with his heart. The sun was setting at the horizon, and his soft features were bathed in the twilight. I envied Sandeep.
Most of them were women. Sometimes a man would join them, if he had known the deceased. This was always exciting; most of the women were widows. Mary’s husband was the latest to go, last July sixth. His name had been Carl, and his funeral was a good one.
The next morning, I found Zakaria and, by the afternoon, Nasima was in my flat swabbing the floors in a green sari. She was dark and thin with high cheekbones and deep-set eyes that sparked. She told me she was twenty-five, a year my senior. She had three children and a husband who peddled a cycle rickshaw.
In my room, the shadows were lifting with the promise of a brand-new day. My head pounded. The rest of the dreadful things that I could have said to my mother was stuck in my chest with no release or room. I spoke this way to no one else. I took a deep breath.
Before her unexpected death, one for the books, really, my mother aimed for fancy. She smelled like musky southern roses. She exuded beauty, with her violet eyes — Elizabeth Taylor eyes — and skin soft as peaches. And yet, all the while, something unkind coursed through her, and I could not tell you why. Was it the town?
As they walked down the hallway, he felt embarrassed at the thought that if the restaurant were full, he wouldn’t be able to pick out Xaver. Fortunately, it was between lunch and dinner hour, and the restaurant was empty. The lone man sitting at the back table looked like an older version of a photo Finn had seen of Xaver.
The house seemed to be riddled with mysterious happenings. One evening, while he was climbing up the stairwell to his room on the second floor, he felt an unexpected gust of cold wind. It was the last spell of winter, and he knew there could not possibly be such a wind from the south, yet he could clearly feel its bite.
I am not sure if they made any sound. Returning to the tent, I poked my head into the flap and saw myself still asleep on the ground. With an emerging daze at the back of my head, I looked up from the bag to see that there was nobody at the tent’s entrance. It was zipped shut.
I was fond of that little place. There were costume-like clothes dangling above my head, willowy branches of a protective forest, and the walls formed an impenetrable edifice, bumpy and cold like Rapunzel’s tower. The clothes smelled of starch and my mother’s youth.
I grinned at her and her enviable energy, soaking in her palpable brightness. She practically hopped around the kitchen, half humming a half-familiar tune, as she noticed every detail most people seemed to miss. There was no use in trying to stop this on my own.
The Body. My body. My body thus became insignificant, irrelevant even. I owned it, but I didn’t own it. I felt it, but I didn’t feel it. But I felt the times it was battered, abused, spited, pinched, pushed around, shut down.
He climbed up into the cabin half afraid that the machine would jolt to life and crush him or trap him. Once inside the cabin, he felt safer, less exposed. His father’s cologne lingered in the stale cabin air, rousing the memory of yesterday and all the secrets hidden under the soil.
When Rokon Mama arrived the following winter, I waited for him with all the curiosity of an eleven-year-old busybody. I wanted to know more about him. I had asked Mother too, who just hushed me up. Nanu had set his breakfast separately from the rest of the family.
Joshua and Eric, they are good boys. Boys are easier. The boys don’t give me much trouble. Of course, Eric is spoiled, but he is small and doesn’t know. Joshie is my best. Joshie tells me, “Mommy, I love you so much.” He doesn’t forget the garbage or his laundry. When I say, “Mop the floors!” Joshie mops the floors. When I say, “Vacuum the car. Now!” Joshie vacuums the car.
I have been pigging out on Oreos lately. They aren’t good for me. My doctor warns me that my nocturnal habits are wrong. Too many snacks. Too little sleep. I quote that boy-devil, Bart Simpson, and tell him not to have a kitten.