Fifty – d

The house was full of books, with its red floor to the cream wall. A yard outside. It grew cashew trees, letting down the swing of mother’s yellow cotton saree which Satya uncle, mom’s youngest brother thought was unsafe. ‘Listen, be careful! That branch appears to be chancy.’ he advised from where he stood at the doorway one night when he was at home.
There were Zinnias and Dahlias, marshalled up in pink and yellow, through which were roses in different shades of red; remnants of rectangular bricks from here and there were used as a border.
Somewhere on the land was a well, brimming with silver during the season of rains. Once there was a pint sized snake in it, floating dead on the surface with its body flipped. We were told by our mother, as we came home from the school in the evening, that Ajja is home. ‘Why, where?’ one and the both of us raised our eyebrows in excitement as Palthaje Ajja rarely stepped onto our farm.
We ran out to the well. I looked for the snake my mother described me of, in the waters that looked just as it had always been, with purple flowers of a kind and full of leaves round the unoccupied walls of it. ‘They are up in the mound’ I heard my mom’s words through the parallel grids of the kitchen window.
We climbed up the mud road filled with stones, to the gate of many squares. Clanking it open, we scurried across the narrow trail to stop at where, sat the men who looked more familiar than ever.
Palthaje Ajja stood by and watched as the men, our farm workers I make jokes with, were breaking soil out to bury the lifeless snake that was found in the well. And I saw it as Seethrama, one of the workers, curled it with a stick; it bore patches of black dots in sizes against the white elastic body.
By the time the men finished, together we walked down to home with Ajja ahead of us. The sun had climbed down behind the house of Koti Poojari, far across the fields covered by rows of coconut trees. From the roof of their small bathroom, rose clouds of mist by the wood fire, while my brother and I played hopscotch on the yard under the evening sky.


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