Imli looked at her watch – a ridiculous pink with a Mini Mouse dial.
Soon it would be dark. The rule was- “Reach home before its dark.” But today she felt like breaking the rule, breaking the monotony of time, repeating itself with a selfish callousness. For her time moved, but never changed.
Its been long. Her ears were itching to be boxed by Prabha.
“Imli”- Who would name her child so? After sourness? Her real name was lost, tucked away in neat folds of forgotten time.
Prabha had named her Tanima after her grandmother. A solid, old traditional Hindu name. Imli was born on a cold winter morning (the coldest in twenty two years). Prabha fainted the moment she popped out- partly in relief from the current pain and partly in dread of the forthcoming pains.
The fog had made it impossible for the relatives to visit Imli in the hospital.
Finally it was time for Prabha to say her name aloud- but when it was time the tongue rendered itself impotent; capable only of producing incomprehensible sounds. She tried saying the name right and gave up on it after her third attempt, settling on whatever warble came out of her mouth- Tameema.
The day is slowly fusing into darkness. Day and night they fuse together- Imli could never clearly say where one ended and the other began.
She doesn’t want to return. Home means silence. Home is mourning. It is not where the dead are disposed off that haunts. It is the space that the living occupy before dying, which is scary.
The place had become wrong after her father’s death. Each day was divided into various phases of mourning- mornings for silent mourning, evenings for cantankerous outbursts with the self and nights were for damp dreams. Only the afternoons were naked, stripped of any pretence of sadness.
Stuti ChandraShe has done her Masters in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram, Delhi University. She believes, the day she stepped out from her house in Patna and came to Delhi to study literature, everything changed. She discovered a voice in the books she read and magic in words. If you ask her, “Why do you write?”, her answer would probably be, “Because I am alive.” Does one ask people why they speak?