Chapter 3

Mani lived in two different worlds. Nothing supernatural. This is not that kind of story.

See, the good thing about those worms in your head was that they could totally obliterate the experiences you had in the material world. 
Mani sat in the sprawling living room that was stark white in decor. It wasn’t hers, it was far too bleak for her. She seemed surrounded by what looked to her were some kind of cognitive machines. They weren’t really. They were all her husband, Amit’s, colleagues and their spouses. 
The room wreaked of kababs, and whiskey. 
“Mani, come on, one small glass?” 
“Yes, Mani, just one? You won’t become an untouchable if you drink with us, you know?”
“Mani, look, Amit can drink so why can’t you? I mean, heck, for feminism’s sake!”
And so it went. Every time. For ten years she’d been hearing some variation of the same blah blah. 
Mani questioned if she should have brought their seven-year-old along to this party. Or if she should have come at all. 
Baishakh was always be a fun month at home. The month started with a bang on New Year or Noboborsho and soon it would be Rabindra Jayanti, Tagore’s birthday. 
She, her sisters and her friends met after school. They were all acting in a play written by Tagore. Ma was directing it, correcting their intonation, stitching their costumes. The warm, sunny days of Baishakh were the best. All the paddy had been harvested, the whole town had a festive mood. 
The front porch was slowly transforming into a stage. Alok kaku was setting up the lights, Baba was helping with the set, and the kids were so excited! There would be luchi ghugni (Fried Indian bread and dried yellow peas curry) served that evening, their grandma was making it for all the guests! 
The familiar sounds of the evening rang out, an Azan from the mosque nearby, bells and conches from every Hindu home, hurricane lamps and lanterns went on everywhere. And then the curtains were drawn, the play began. 
“You know, Mani, I just put my daughter in summer camp. She will stay there all day. You should think about putting yours in, too! Our daughters could have fun. Besides, think how much free time you’ll have.”
Mani didn’t want the free time. She would teach her daughter Bangla during summer. She wanted to watch her baby wake up every morning, play and read and talk all day long. She wanted to put on Bangla songs, and then creep into the living room to find her daughter dancing to them oblivious to her surroundings. She wanted to take her daughter to the library, smell the dusty yellow pages there and pick out her summer reads.

She always wanted to hear that small, growing heartbeat close to her. Her daughter would have a summer camp. Just not the kind where homemakers got to get rid of their kids each day.

Summers used to be fun. They were going to be fun again.

Author: Dr. Anwesha Bhattacharjee

Data Scientist turned Product Manager, Writer, Choreographer, Vocalist

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