Monday, July 10, 2006
It was the third day since any of them had seen water. The sun was not blazing, shining in a way that hurts your eyes to look at the sky, but the heat was incessant. The air felt blood warm and it hurt to breath. If you kept your eyes closed, you would not be able to make out the time of the day based on temperature alone. The heat would just not let up. The air, the earth, the body - everything felt like they had reached thermal equilibrium. There was no breeze, nothing to disturb the equilibrium of the place. They lay listless in a row, not having the strength to signal the life left in them.
She came out of the house, weary and hot. Today had been particularly hot, not that it had been any less for the last three days. It had left behind hot tar roads and roof tops, melted chocolates, flaring tempers and warm bath water that would't lose the heat despite leaving it to cool overnight. The neighborhood children had emptied the water from the fridge three times from the morning and were complaining that the water was not cool enough. The little one was curled up in a daze beneath the ceiling fan, after playing in the sun despite warnings. He had left to work early in the morning, leaving her the responsibility of dropping of the kid at school. How she had hated going out... But, he had his English mid-term and he was already two points behind Shammu. She to sit with him the previous evening and listen to him recite rhymes -
"rain, rain - go away,
little children want to play..."
So, she had taken him to school in an auto-rickshaw, tagging the younger one along at 7:45 in the morning. She would have to go back to pick him up in a bit. She had to summon the rickshaw-wala again. How she hated him throwing off his responsibilities like that! It was bad enough to have to go out of the house once in the afternoon to pick him up. And it was so hot... The driver had slid down the seat and was snoring, his head lolling to one side. There was some music playing in his vehicle. The fact that he was able to sleep in the heat annoyed her. Even the song irritated her. The heat was oppressive and she thought - "there, he should be happy, sitting in his air conditioned office." He had taken to spending longer hours in the office for the last couple of days and she wondered if he would come home tonight if the heat did not let up. Why couldnt he air condition the house! Or atleast let her dad get them one? Damn his ego... The man was still sleeping and she didnt want to touch him to wake him up. She knocked on the auto another time and managed to wake him up. She had locked up the house, hoping that the little one would not wake up before they came back.
The kid was crying because the exam had been difficult. Teacher had asked him to recite "Four and twenty blackbirds" and Shammu had to recite only "Peter, Peter - pumpkin eater". "It is so unfair. Why should I always get the longest "poems"?", he had asked. She replied automatically without thinking "I am sure you did well and the teacher noticed and it is a nursery rhyme, not a poem!". She had to carry his school bag for him. As she paid off the auto, she wiped her neck with the dupatta and looked up. The sky was starting to turn overcast at the northwest horizon. Her mood immediately lifted. It would become alrite, she thought. As she walked back, she saw the row of plants - tired and lifeless, looking pathetically helpless. It would definitely rain today, so no need to water them, she thought as she turned the keys to let themselves in.