by Ranee Kaur Banerjee
And in a while again
“See ya, Mom.”
And a while later, a mumbled “Hmmmph”
Then she was alone.
That’s when she caught her first breath.
The rest of her day was tethered to a tight 740 square foot radius that held the kitchen, bucket, clothesline, iron and television soaps until the demands came back in the evening and stayed the night.
One everyday, she left the door unlocked and walked into the city she had lived in for 12 years but never come to know. With every step away, she felt the demands pull her back like gravity and was forced to drop a load from herself so she could keep walking.
She kicked off one slipper; then stumbled as she shed the other before it tripped her.
A few more steps and her hands felt so heavy they wouldn’t move so the four gold bangles went jangling as they careened merrily on the tar.
Almost an entire street went by before her mangalsutra tightened around her neck, almost choking her until she tugged it loose and it went down languidly, lazy even in its fall.
And so, as the streets ran on, they took the ear-rings and the nose stud and the sari. They took it all until there was just her, soaring through liquid branches, unfurled and light as the breeze that lifted her hair, finally floating free and untied and unending like the ribbon streets so far beneath her flying feet.