A Reliable Sign

 

Saudamini squinted at the cloudless sky, trying to divine its hidden messages.

“Bring in the clothes, Amini!” she called to her daughter-in-law.

“Why, Amma? The sun’s shining!” Amini’s voice floated thinly from the small, bare kitchen at the far end of the house.

“Rain is coming.” Saudamini rubbed at her aching knees.

“Amma, the weatherman has predicted no rain for another month.” Amini made her way to the front porch, tidying and straightening the unaligned that only she could see. “Is it your knees? I wish you’d let me make an appointment at the clinic for you. Your arthritis is getting worse.”

“My knees are my barometer, Amini. Doctors will only give me pills I don’t want, and then I won’t know when the rains are coming.” Saudamini’s own mother-in-law had had ulcerating gums an hour before every monsoon, without fail. What was a dull ache in the knees by comparison?

“Amma, these superstitions were fine in the old days, but the weather bureau has modern instruments now. They’re very sensitive and very accurate.” Amini settled at Saudamini’s feet, rolled her mundu above the knees, and massaged Saudamini’s calves.

“My knees are also sensitive and accurate,” chuckled Saudamini.

The ceiling fan whirred and crackled, pushing the afternoon heat erratically around the room.

“See? The electricity is affected. Rain is coming.” Saudamini’s gaze flickered between the fan straining to complete its rounds, and the brilliant sunshine licking at the edges of the raised verandah.

“Load shedding, Amma. Look at the sunshine.” Amini worked her fingers along Saudamini’s legs, kneading and pressing, just as she did with the chapati dough every night.

“Perhaps you’re right.” Saudamini leaned back into her easy chair, and deliberately, methodically relaxed the muscles that had been wound so tight.

As her eyelids drew closed, shuttering the light and heat of the day out, thunder cracked overhead, shaking the house as if it were nothing more than a child’s plastic plaything. Fat, jiggling drops of rain hit the dusty yard, lifting dirt in tiny puffs. Saudamini’s eyes sprang open.

“My knees are never wrong!” Saudamini crowed, shuffling upright in her chair. She would not doubt her abilities again.

4 thoughts on “A Reliable Sign

    • Thank you, Hema! This was one of those stories that had been rattling around for a while, so writing it down felt like much less effort than usual.

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