The Empathizer

Rabindranath Tagore

The leaves were shimmering in the wind and the sunshine. It was midday, almost time for lunch. Luckily, lunch was going to be at my uncle’s house. My uncle lived close to my hostel. It was a ten minute walk, when one took the short cut through a cluster of small houses, shared by multiple low income families, typical in Navi Mumbai about fifteen years ago. I had an umbrella to protect myself from the scorching sun rays. The fad of sunscreen had not caught on there in a big way then. I was heading towards my destination in a light pink cotton salwar kameez, wishing that my aunt had cooked her signature chilli chicken that was so delicious. On my way through the narrow winding path between the houses, I could hear Bollywood music, floating down from cheap transistor radios, probably sitting on bed-side tables. Most people were relaxing inside at this time, with their curtains down, the ceiling fans rotating at the fastest possible speeds, their bodies plopped on soft cotton sheets. Ignoring the heat, I made it to the sidewalk of the big main road where my uncle’s apartment building stood and hurried up the few flights of stairs that led to their door. “Ding Dong.”  Continue reading …..

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