THE WOMAN on Sudder Street in her yellow sari, with her little baby, with her hand outstretched, is tiny.
But she is many women.
She is waiting for me when I sneak out of Flury’s with my chocolate brownie.
Her voice rubs against my feet at night when I return home from visiting Bharat and Vinita, at Earthcare Books.
In Calcutta, the pavement speaks to you.
Where her body ends, a space begins that I leap through. Or try to. Inside the space is the border I packed without knowing it.
For a rupee or two, she will help me set it up. It is a lazy border. Completely without a philosophy. Pragmatic as toothpaste.
Actually, she falls away so easily. “No,” you say. And she is gone.
It’s dismaying. Why do I always say “No?” Even when I give her rupees, it’s always after first saying “No.”
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