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October 2014, vol 10 no 3

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Paresh Tiwari

Seventeen Years Later

The houses by the river with their coloured walls and shingled roofs are still the same. The hedges are pruned and gardens manicured. An occasional bark from behind dark windows and the flutter of a floral curtain are the only signs that the houses are occupied. The house at the end of the road, however, with peeling paint and an iron gate rusting at the hinges, has aged over the years like a sepia photograph with frayed edges. A garden overrun with weeds and squirrels, it sticks out amidst the cloned perfection of its surroundings.

I remember this house as we used to play cricket in the adjoining field. I, then fifteen, first saw her drying her hair on the roof in the winter sun. After that I always aimed the ball inside the boundaries of that house just to catch a glimpse of her. She must have been in her late thirties.

Pushing open the squealing gate, I climb the steps to her front door and ring the bell. Not knowing what to expect after all these years, I thumb the pastel coolness of the orchids that I have picked up on my way from the airport.

she still remembers
the cricket ball