The Crater Doesn't Move
by Bhaswati Ghosh
I've stopped sleeping in our bedroom. Without the blare of heavy metal booming out of Shankar's room, slumber eludes me. I lie on the blue-green cot on the terrace, staring at the sky. Sleep is still evasive.
I sit up and light a cigarette—my nemesis and redemption.
Fluffy mounds of cloud shroud the moon. As the cloud masses drift along the darkening horizon, the moon ambles with them. But this isn't supposed to happen. Doesn't the moon stay in one place while clouds sweep over it? If this is some strange celestial phenomenon, I will take it. Anything that defies reality.
My smoky mind joins the floating clouds.
Shankar makes it to the army. "You just see, Baba, I will make the cut for the Air Force," he tells me, when I suggest joining the infantry. He's always been defiant; who am I to say he wouldn't defeat bronchial-asthma to rule the skies?
A small patch of nimbus passes.
Eight months after I buy him a motorbike, Shankar promises to pay me back by flying fighter jets. "With interest even—a Hyundai Santro."
A dilatant cloud lump is taking forever to move. My chest throbs.
Shankar remembers the date of my heart attack. A year later, he wants to celebrate. "Baba, only vegetable stew for you. Biryani for us!" Laughter all around.
The morning after, we take out Shankar's dead body. Asthma wins.
At dawn, the clouds depart. The moon hasn't moved an inch. It's the crater within me.