CAUTION: This story contains references to domestic violence and descriptions of childhood emotional abuse.
I stood at the podium looking out at the sea of faces, unfamiliar and familiar, the funeral director’s words still ringing in my ears. It’s okay to be raw and honest.There’s no right way to grieve. They’re just looking for the comfort of a shared experience from you.
A steady breeze blew through the deserted streets of Old Town lifting dust and debris into a ghoulish danse macabre. The blades of the old windmill whined their arc through the air, the rusted metal cogs and gears screeching in protest.
Shanti wound her window down and inhaled the fumes. She loved these late-night gas station runs with Appa. It was their time together. No Amma worrying over money, or which Aunty had insulted her this week. No Anna, pretending to be older than his years, trying to impress Appa by discussing politics like a good son, or whether the stock market was a pig or a cow; some animal Shanti couldn’t remember. It was just her and Appa, an exclusive event.
The fans circle, humming sonorously, making no difference in the dense hot air. My aunt and I sit surrounded by cascades of colourful, gold-embroidered silk as the small birdlike dark skinned shop assistant claws more saris from the shelves, fanning them out to their full glory, allowing the light to catch the subtle changes in hue, the double colours, the intricate embroidery. Motherless since the age of three, Amayi, unmarried, unencumbered by children of her own, has always been my substitute mother.