"I apologize again for having troubled you so early. I was hoping one of
your sons would be visiting, and I would bring him with me."
"All three children are far away, the boys and the girl," he says as he
rummages. There is a lobster buoy from Maine, USA, that is used as a
doorstopper at the back of the house on hot mornings, to let in the sun
and the trickling song of the stream which runs beside the narrow lane
there; the stream that is more stones than water as the summer advances
but a great catcher of pollen nevertheless, the stones white as chalk in
the sun, black underwater. During autumn the speed of the water is so
great that you fear your foot would be instantly sliced off at the ankle
if you stepped into it.
Outside, as he walks behind Kiran in that below-zero monsoon, there are
gentle skirmishes between the falling snowflakes now that the wind has
risen a little.
Two sets of Kiran's footprints lie before him as he follows her to her
house. Each perfect cylinder punched into the deep snow has at its base
a thin sheet of packed ice through which the dry leaves of the field
maples can be seen as though sealed behind glass. They are as intricate
as the gold jewellery from the Subcontinenttreasures buried under the
snow till a rainy day.
Planted between two field maples on the slope, the telephone pole has
had several of its wires broken during the night, and, encased in thick
cylinders of ice, they lie snapped like candles in the snow. The chilled
air is as keen as a needle on the skin and the incline is forcing him to
take a hummingbird's 300 breaths per minute. A frozen buried clump of
grass breaks under his weight and the cracking sound is the sound that Kaukab produces when she halves and quarters cinnamon sticks in the
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