A Monsoon Memory

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Based on my mother's upbringing in pakistan, this is a short story about a woman living in India, reflecting on the loss of her husband, juxtaposed with the beauty of her land.

Submitted: September 26, 2011

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Submitted: September 26, 2011

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A small beggar girl picked at and inhaled the spiked ginger lily and sunflowers incessantly, trying to stuff some in her burlap pocket. The owner of the flower shop bustled out and yelled some curses at girl, until she scuttled out to the wide marketplace. Her skin was cinnamon sprinkled with burnt sienna; with turmeric-stained hands from making lunch. Her hair was a loosely coiled black bun piled lazily, hanging near the nape of her neck, and men in the town always admired her full body, her pendulous breasts that rested on a rotund belly. Chandrika was the owner of a small flower shop in a marketplace in New Delhi who spent her days selling various honey scented flora and shooing away the town’s poor vagabond children, sneakily grabbing at any bits of bread that they could get their henna-tinted little hands on. The flower shop was adorned with incense, jasmine scented, that made the place even more enchanting than it already was. The fragrant wisps of smoke misting over petals made Chandrika’s eyes droopy. She could sense a monsoon arriving, in time. The great, hot, swelling winds were proud, with peach flavored clouds looming over New Delhi. The dainty girls swooned over hibiscus and the foolish boys splashed mud on her plant pots as they kicked around a tightly wound ball of string, a makeshift soccer ball. A small family of monkeys observed from several meters away, a chubby mother plodding down the road, her two kin grooming their stubbornly spiky fur with meager pink tongues.

She tried to engulf herself in the thick leaves on which she ate some lamb Shawarma, and inhale the scent of the incense, but the haunting image of her husband, dead by age 38 from sudden heart failure, still lingered in her mind. Sweet Rohan. It would be the anniversary of his death tomorrow. She used to rub jasmine oil on her husband’s wrists before he went to bed. It calmed his sinuses and made them both dream of the first days they met, in a rice field, at the young age of seventeen. He put a magnolia behind her left ear and whispered that her hair smelled as sweet as the nectar of the flower, inspiring her future career. The jasmine scent did not let her rest now; it made her developing leathery crows eyes tense, and let clear, salty streams of tears run down her face.  She missed the crumpled mound beneath the blanket on her right side and sometimes even stuffed pillows under the sheets to help her go to sleep.

She watched the brown sticks, emanating memories, and sunk her crooked, canary teeth into the blushing mango. It was succulent and sweet under her tongue but the taste was numbed slightly, and her tears lay as miniscule, reflective crystal balls on the waxy green leaf. It had flourished for a while, but would be a wilted, useless thing soon enough, Chandrika realized with a sad smile. Some kinds of love, she kept trying to convince herself, wilted, but not the love for her husband. Or so she wished, as she attempted to remember the exact lines and stubble on her Rohan’s chin that she always kissed before dinner, with supple, tamarind lips.

This newfound emptiness inside her soul was not welcomed by Chandrika, who spent her days and evenings alone in the flower shop, praying to Shiva and setting the table towards the back of the shop with two placemats, two plates of food, two neat piles of samosas and sauce opposing each other at a wooden table. He loved those samosas, the varied palette of peas and carrots and potatoes, the brownish, bright emerald, and orange delicacy hissing steam and always burning the tip of his tongue.  He couldn’t help it, the pockets of ecstasy were too delectable to take time eating slowly. Rohan always gobbled them up, always took time out of his day to appreciate her meals. Her flesh. Her voice.She swore she could feel a breeze passing by whenever these meals were cooked. Not a monsoon wind, but his spirit passing by, she was sure. Or maybe it was a monsoon wind. 

She picked at the mango’s hard center; sighing with disappointment and watching the sun turn bloody across the road. Forty one years growing up in New Delhi, twenty two years in this flower shop, three years without her matching heartbeat, one more empty day watching the garnet sunset with clouds of incense dampened by the first monsoon drops.

 


© Copyright 2019 naima karp. All rights reserved.

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