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July 2019 Vol. 15 No. 2

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Sonam Chhoki

The stories neighbours tell . . .

No, I wasn't in a hurry and I wasn't on my cell phone when I felt that crunch under one of the back wheels. I got out and looked under the car. There it was, lying on its stomach with its eyes staring ahead. There was no blood or guts splattered where it lay. There was a marked dent on its side and a rupture in the fur where the tissues poked out in a mangle. No blood! That is what that struck me. I eased the body from under the left back wheel and one of the legs swung limp in my hand. It was still warm. No blood, I kept telling myself.

No, I didn't run over the cat because its owner, Mrs TT brought me wild mushroom soup (delicious it was too) and proceeded to insinuate about my better half, who was away visiting his family.

She tut-tutted, "Oh! I know his types. Nowadays men find everything on their phones." She ignored my bewilderment and continued, "Those women with whom he takes lifts when you are away, I wonder which one of them, is his latest."

I protested, "My husband does car shares with his colleagues." She rolled her eyes as if I were a dullard, pressed my hands with exaggerated emphasis and shook her head.

No, it was not even because Mrs TT once asked me to take her to the hospital for an appointment she didn't have and I almost missed an important briefing later that morning. And not because she wanted a lift to the Sunday market but when I backed the car out of the garage I found that she had lined up her visiting relatives for me to taxi around that weekend.

I confess that I have turned the hose on the cat a few times when it stalked a family of wagtails in the hedge and left carcasses by our back door. I have also shooed it away when it began to use our newly prepared vegetable plot as its outdoor toilet.

I looked at its increasingly cold body and could think of no reason why I ran over Mrs TT's cat. So I knocked on her door with the cat wrapped in the morning paper. She smiled when she saw the package. I held it out towards her and simply said, "I am sorry I ran over your cat.”

rising temperature
the musk rose covered
in bitter gourd vine

storm forecast
boarding up windows
facing the neighbour