Sunday 27 June 2021

'Pick-up Time' by Sumitra Shankar

There was great fanfare about going to kindergarten, but all I could think of was being away from Ma.  It was terrifying.  I felt completely alone, surrounded by a gaggle of loud and messy children.  My only friend was the gentle tropical breeze wafting in through the open windows.  There was a woman at the front of the class, golden like the sun, and when she spoke pearls would fall from her lips and the children would scurry to pick them up.  I could only stare in awe.  She was beautiful, and it seemed impossible that there would be a more beautiful person in the world, but of course there was, just one.  That one person wasn’t there with me, and I was bereft.

I waited and waited, but no one came, only the soft breeze.  It ruffled my hair and rustled the pages of the book on my quaint desk with the lifting lid.  I don’t remember if it was a copy book or a story book, but I do remember the sound of the breeze through the pages.  It was a lazy, sleepy sort of sound, and through my half-closed eyes the wind turned and developed substance.  It became a greenish see-through chiffon type material.  A sari pallu, a flying, dancing miracle of green and blue and gold.  There was a peacock on it, and as it danced its clawed feet turned into toes, and legs, and arms, and shoulders, then a face.  The face of the one woman in the world more beautiful than the golden sun standing in front of the class.  Ma had come at last.  I ran to her, and we danced away from the golden sun and the pearls and the noisy children, we danced away into the starlight we made together.

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