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Showing posts from April, 2017

Grandmother's Red Can

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It’s an ordinary day in my village.
I’m waiting out the scorching afternoon heat, trying to take a nap on the cool cement floor of my grandmother’s house. The stillness all around has lulled my two-year old cousin sister to sleep in the sari cradle that hangs from the wooden rafter in the centre of the room.
But suddenly, the little girl lets out a wail as her peaceful slumber is broken by the loud, urgent cry of the scrap dealer passing by. “Old steel vessels. Paper. Broken parts,” he repeatedly calls out in a sing song manner that is strangely pleasing to the ear.
“Tell him to wait,” my grandmother instructs my brother and hurries to the rear of the house where a pile of discarded materials is heaped.
I eagerly follow her and help rummage through the dusty collection of odd items -- a deflated cycle tyre, a dented coffee pot, a broken ladle, my uncle’s rusty shaving kit, several of my used notebooks from college, and a pair of torn rubber slippers. “He weighs the paper in kilos. Some…

Last Day of Another School Year for Keerthika

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It's the last day of school for the elementary grades.
I fill my steel cup with hot tea and walk over to the tables where the little kindergarteners and first- graders are seated in the dining hall. From the satisfied looks on their faces I can tell that they're thoroughly enjoying the fresh slices of cucumber that they're having for their evening snack.

"So are you excited to go home tomorrow?" I ask, settling into the empty chair at the corner of the table. Heads nod in answer and I receive a chorus of a loud, happy 'yes.' But five year old, Keerthika, takes me completely by surprise when she comes over to me and says in her usual soft voice, "I don't want to go home."

The inquisitive psychologist in me immediately grows alert. I place an arm around her waist and ask her in a gentle yet concerned tone, "Why don't you want to go home, darling?" I fear I already know what her answer might be.
I am only too aware of what life is …