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July 2014, vol 10, no 2

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Paresh Tiwari

The Last Sliver of Sky

Grandma's home loomed like a crooked tooth – decaying bottom up from the ugly gums of the festering old city. To reach her place, one had to side step piles of garbage, hop over stagnant puddles and request grumpy pigs for the right of way. It was a three-storey building, competing for fresh air with a mesh of overhead power cables that dissected the sky.

Though I lived with my parents in the bustle of the new town, visiting gran's home was always the highlight of my summer vacations. We would pass by a paan stall, a kite maker and a tea vendor with huge glass jars of rainbow candy. Gran loved to fuss over all of us but I believed that I was her favourite. I would stuff myself with jalebis and curd, samosas with tamarind dip and the kind of creamy carrot halwa which only grandmas know how to cook.

Lazy afternoons with comic books, evening kite contests, cricket matches in labyrinthine lanes - nothing was off limits. But my favourite time was the night, when all of us would climb up three flights of rickety stairs to reach the rooftop and lie down over makeshift beds of cotton mattresses. Amidst the friendly banter of pubescent cousins, friendly aunts and gravel voiced uncles we would drift off to sleep beneath a canopy of a star-embroidered sky.

bell-jar town . . .
the clatter of grab rails
in a metro train