The narrow road was deserted. Not a single soul in sight. We had to squint our eyes when we looked out at the front yard. Everything looked golden. Then, when your eyes adjusted to the glare of the noon sun, you saw the greens and the reds and the violets. Mostly greens. The red earth contrasted with the foliage. Violet flowers exploded out of the greens.
He sat listlessly on the veranda. Plump hands propped on elbows, supported atop a pair of podgy knees. They were bare because he was wearing shorts that rode up when he sat. His hair fell across his forehead and his plump fingers covered his cheeks. His eyes shone of five–year–old innocence. They were half-open, half-closed. He was drowsy but he would not nap.
She played with some dry twigs, not so far away. Her curly hair fell all over her face as she buried her face deep into her bundle of leaves and twigs. Her mouth was half open in absent-minded concentration. Her body language was anything but lethargic. She rared to run around in the lawn for a good measure of time. Her tiny slippers were tossed about. She sat barefoot, revealing orange heels.
I sat watching the coconut trees sway in the April breeze. If it were night, I would have been scared for sure. The cement felt cool beneath me. To take advantage of it, I extended my crossed legs, making an ‘L’ with my back against the wall. My pink skirt had a life of its own and I battled with it, while ‘Nimmi’, the pet cat, napped on my lap.
We three ran towards the mango tree. A frantic search for the freshly fallen mango began. Nimmi, irritated and jolted, joined us. We found broken glass bangles. We found tiny coconuts that fell off much before it grew. We found a rusty old knife. We found an old wallet. We even found an abandoned snakeskin. Rustling in the dried leaves, we searched for the fallen booty. But the search party had to abort their mission.
“Monae! Moley!” Valyamma was calling out for us. He groaned that he didn’t want to nap. This he said with his eyes drooping heavy with sleep. She ran away with panther pace. I had found the mango. Succulent and ripe. Enticing and delicious. I picked it up only to find one side of the fruit intact. The other side of the mango was eaten away by some crow. Fleshy pulp exposed. Stony seed revealed. I threw it away and walked off with the glass bangle pieces.
Nimmi and I resumed our earlier position on the cement floor, waiting for the next thud. The other two were being put off to a reluctant, yet much-needed, afternoon nap.
*Valyamma = Paternal Aunt