She is running down the stairs, no, sprinting. She is sprinting! Her silver wavy locks flying behind her pink wrinkled face. She is angry, furious. I have never seen her angry. She is sprinting downstairs with a stick. No, not a stick, a rifle. Is it loaded? How does she even have a rifle? She has her brown full-framed glasses on, teetering up and down, ready to fall off her nose any minute now. I can’t help but giggle. I shouldn’t, I know.


Two tall well-built men. No, four. Two, surely two. They are taking her away. Their strong tanned hands almost break her fragile bones; I can almost feel the warmth of her tears, the weariness in her struggle, the strength in her pain. She is kicking at them, her thin limbs cycling in mid-air. She refuses to capitulate. If I wasn’t feeling what I am feeling, this scene would’ve been funny. She doesn’t stand a chance, she should know. But she is crying and howling and shouting and cycling in mid-air while they take her away. And dad is standing, expressionless. And mom is silent.



Tears are streaming down my face. And I am sweating. And the bed is wet. I stop crying, incredulously dumbfounded. My eyes adjust to the darkness. The pendulum of the clock above my bed goes right and left, right and left. Crickets cry through the crisscross of street lights along the lane. And the world is asleep in bed.

But, granny isn’t.

And suddenly there’s so much I need to tell her, so much she must see. The Great Canyon, Maldives and acacia trees. So many songs she has missed, will miss. (She loved to sing.) My wedding, she wanted to attend my wedding, name my babies. And payasam, who will make payasam for me? I don’t think mom will ever be any good at it. And her willow tree. Will it die too, of grief?

Amma had narrated a zillion stories to me. Of Draupadi, Ulysses and talking trees. I never asked her where she had read them, or heard them. How did she remember so many of them? How do I remember them? I suppose some stories do that, they don’t let you forget them.

I don’t know why I dreamt of her tonight. I don’t know why she was running down the stairs with a rifle in her hand. Where were those men taking her? Why? I don’t know why I dream weird dreams. She would have known. She always knew.

She used to sing to me in bed.

The day is gone, and night drags on
when will my call come, when will I move on?

I guess she was really singing to someone else.


The girl who travels in bows


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