The Little Movements Of Our Big Lives

Mira & Tara

It was close to 5 pm; the tide was rising, and the sun, threatening to set. The lines on Mira’s face appeared calmer, well earned, almost fluid. She sipped from her broken tea cup and breathed in the salty breeze. In the distance, a pressure cooker went off. This was her favourite time of the day. Bathed in gold, the world around her looked splendid. Nothing felt urgent or unwelcome.

Tara came into the room, holding her cloth doll by the wrist, the rest of its body dragging along the cold floor. One thumb in her mouth, she walked up to the window Mira was at and appeared to be just as besotted by the show. A toddler of 2, she too seemed settled, mature and ponderous.

Mira moved her fingers through Tara’s hair; glossy and scant, they comforted her. Tara backed up, and slumped closer to her grandmother, her eyes growing heavy, almost as if hypnotised. Her breath had that peculiar quality as that of children — innocent, trusting, delicate. Her chest matched in movement.

Sundays are about Lamb Curry

Mira wasn’t sure how much time had passed when Sarla set the piping hot curry on the table. The aroma filled the small room. The windows were shut to prevent the mosquitoes from entering at dusk.

A pungent lamb curry & steamed rice was the staple preparation on Sundays, and leftovers from lunch were served at dinner. Tara was no longer at Mira’s feet. Slowly getting up, Mira made her way to the table as the cotton curtains, flying with the fan’s breeze settled at the back of her chair.

Sarla? Mira called out. Sarla?

No answer. She must be out with Tara, out for their daily evening stroll on the beach, talking about mountain peaks and snowstorms; fish kingdoms and forests made of pudding.

Mira stretched her fingers out and observed her bones making their way upwards towards her nails, frail and determined at once. She moved her head, her left ear touching her shoulder, hearing a crack. She liked doing this every so often. At 82, it made her feel the life moving inside her, running through her veins. Still pulsing, still containing life — flowing, sometimes dancing.

She served herself a mound of rice, made a small gulf in it with her fingers, and poured in some of the curry.

Sarla, you eat too. You can clean up later. You must be hungry.

The Night-time Routine of Contentment

Slowly taking her linen saree off, and placing it on the wooden rack, Mira got ready for bed. She wore her printed night gown, moving carefully so as to avoid her bad shoulder, and rubbed a pungent balm on her elbows and applied the leftovers on her soft knees. She looked at her reflection in the mirror through a mild milky haze she was now used to. Turning on the squeaky steel tap, she brushed her teeth, and soothed her wispy cotton-ball hair into a loose braid.

Sarla had left the windows open as usual, and had left a mosquito coil burning in the corner of the room. The moon hung low today, swollen with nostalgia. The red stone floor was cold in reaction. The thick greenery outside Mira’s childhood window sheltered a million crickets, who gathered to sing songs of loneliness at dark. Beyond that, the sea was peaceful, routinely breaking its waves at the shore, reassuring her of its presence.

She closed her eyes and felt her heart in its place. Aged, smiling, content. Breathing in the cool air, she mentally moved through her childhood — the big apple tree in the backyard, her mother’s almond eyes, the beads of sweat on the fish lady’s brow. The wrath of her elder brother when she ate his share of jaggery. She remembered her husband, the curls of his mustache, the right angles of his charms.

She imagined herself as merely a scent, devoid of her body, moving through the world in perfect harmony.