Fifty two.

The mud road that ran along in darkness had a house below, whose hallroom was dimly lit with yellow bulb. A showcase full of books, on which was an old Samsung Tv which her mother would switch on to watch Kannada serials and movies. Down from the showcase she had picked Sidney Sheldon’s novels, which she read on her college bus with Mrudula, her friend who always sat at the window side.
The books she read reminded her of the days she had long forgotten, days when her father’s younger brother would take one of those grey chairs in the hallway to watch Tv serials.
And of the nights when he wouldn’t knock at the yellow door of the house anymore, while the mother and her children under the roof kept looking for him through the train of windows.
The mother asked her father in law one afternoon, ‘What have we done to him?’
as he silently sat on the sofa with blue curtains swinging behind, not knowing what to say. He looked at us standing at the doorway and watching them, as the mother wept in the grey chair. He asked if we finished the groundnuts he had brought for us from Ibrahim’s shop. We nodded our heads and he turned back at my mother, to say it’s going to be okay.
Decades later we had gotten over the fact that when my brother and I were little, when my father would not live with us, we had his brother coming home every night to look after as the house we lived in was isolated from the neighborhood. With Julie, the dog on the front steps by the yard. On one of those days when the daughter was grown up and carried books wherever she went, her mother wasn’t surprised. She knew where the reading was coming from. She remembered her husband under the dim light in their dining room. Early in the morning with a book in his hand. Flipping the pages one by one, slowly and carefully, when she got up from the bed and walked through to the kitchen, to drink a glass of water. She remembers it all, when she sees her daughter in the same dining room, early in the morning under the unchanged dim light, flipping the pages of William Trevor’s book.
Slowly and carefully.

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