A Hundred and One

The Bus

The bus pulls up at the signal. I have just run my fastest 600 meters. My chest heaves, my tongue’s pasty, my skin, alive. The bus-door cranks open. Heat radiates from the engine, and tumbling from the bus is a crowd of smells, and late night emptiness. I am the two-eyed, well-aware queen of reserved-for-ladies seats occupied by late men. I sit, hands caked with the smell of peeling paint and rust. Salty tastes form on my tongue.

For memory, I rest my head against the strip of bus between my world-view, and someone else’s.

I feel a reassuring shudder.

My Favourite Thing to Eat

My most favourite thing to eat in the world, is chocolate. There is also tamarind, which I like for the same reasons. But I like chocolate better.

The glory of chocolate is not taste. It is texture. Chocolate is like skin, obeying whims of temperature and touch. A tango tangle between tongue and block. The block sits stubborn in the mouth, fighting, rigid. The tongue pins it down to the palate. And slowly, the block gives in.

70% cocoa is like grown-up love. More difficult to tease, harder to melt. Crafted. Bitter, sweet, heady, with a tang of well-brewed chemistry.

My Summer Holidays

My summer holidays are over. I cannot lie on my belly on the cold floor, sip Rasna and read the same Tinkles and ACKs (particularly Panchatantra). I cannot eat any more ghee-rich lunches fed by my grandma, or nap with my stuffed elephant, wake up at 4:05PM, in time to slip into my cotton frock and Hawaii chappals, or run out to play. I cannot throw pebbles at my friends’ windows. I cannot dig tunnels in sand-piles, or come home with a few million rashes and stray puppies any more.

People would laugh if I did. I’m too big now.

My Pet Dog

I don’t have a dog. It is not a biscuit-brown well-bred Cocker Spaniel. It does not daintily cross its feet at the last joint. It does not have socks, or puppies. I have never had a dog. I have brought home strays in the rain, fed them biscuits, owned them with ribbons, and have sent them back outside, crying. Dogs have been cause for my hiccupping cry of “cowards”, flung at my family for their never wanting to have their hearts broken again.

The only dog I have had, is their memory of one. A carrot-thieving German Shepherd named Teddy.