My grandfather calls for dinner. My grandmother says he will get none, its only eight-
“Its eight o clock!”
“You have done nothing today, you slept the whole afternoon through and now you want to eat?”
“Well! Now do you see how your grandmother treats me?”
An Indonesian batik painting emerges from behind the worn sofa my mother and I move to the living room. It’s the third one in the house, caked in dust, its thin protective film of plastic torn.
“What will we do with all of these?”
It is a question for my grandmother to ask and for us to give no answer to.
My father has the answer, but he’s not in the country for the next week, so there is only silence today.
There is little my father does not share with his friends, and into this small box of the untold goes another truth.
So, he lies into the phone and says that he’s here in Kolkata on holiday, and yes, the family is here too. No, he’ll be back in Bangalore next week, sure Venky, they can meet up then.
He hides much from us and is who he really is with them, so when they aren’t told it cannot feel like this decision is a good one.
(They are people who excel in their fields, so secrets from them like this cannot be good, but we cannot suggest it.)
We set up new house with our old things, and with every new house I see these things are unfamiliar to me altogether.
It hasn’t been a month, but I already associate a different anxiety to the roads that lead ‘home’. This time, it is shame. The city lights are beacons that tell me there is no time left, and that the box of truths is too full, its metal lid can’t sit without pressing down on it.
My grandfather helps himself to a second sweet after dinner, and after telling him off, my grandmother lets him. I think this is how it should be, not the constant quiet that lingers over food between my own parents.
(it is as it should be)
The flowers in my grandmother’s balcony bloom, and she can’t contain herself. She limps into the room and reverentially places the three small flowers before the framed pictures of her blue god.
I look at them and hate it.