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  • Laboni Bhattacharya

The Second Story


It is time for the second story to be told. Let us remember, then, that we still exist - hold on to your shoulders and feel the bones beneath.

*

All I wanted to do on that frantic car ride east was to be able to look at her pallid face. I imagined myself bending down to brush my lips over her cold forehead, and finally, to touch her withered cheek and cry. By the time I reached, she was ashes.

He couldn’t bear to look at her swaddled body on the floor anymore. On the grapevine I hear (a throwaway detail) that he’s taken to sleeping in the study.

For weeks I dreamt vividly of cooking. Daal and mango chutney and thinly sliced lauki sabzi materialised in her kitchen – the one that I hadn’t stepped in since. But the taste of grief was thick in the air, like her gentle voice.

Outside, the sapota tree had begun to die, perforated by sharp insect teeth. That was a slow death.

*

Our second story begins after the first dwindles away to a forgotten promise. Our third story begins after the second is riddled with holes.

Do you remember the first time you heard a tree falling in the middle of an intersection? An oily man once said we all must pay for it. But that is not how we are going to do it.

When seismic trauma opens up the earth in a crack; you may run with your world upon your back you may sing with your life upon your palm you may dance with knives tied to your feet you may spin in eddies with death.


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