She smells of fresh laundry, of rain in strange lands. He knows now that her perfume is Cotton, Grass and Rain by Marc Jacobs. He likes the softness of her, because she makes him forget the hard edges of his mother, the dark corners of his loneliness, the dry scratch of his own thoughts.
Nishu wanted a Double X for his birthday. He confided this daily to his grandmother, Bernie, who, at eighty-three, had lived through a war, and endured displacement, and knew a weapon when she saw one. Kabir had listened as a group of men argued over who was really behind the terror their neighborhoods were facing. It was widely believed that vigilante groups supported by the Administration were carrying out the raids.
At times, she can’t remember his name. The nameplate outside the house says ‘Mustafa Muhammad’. The house belongs to Mustafa Muhammad, yet he is the visitor who comes and goes. She has come to understand these walls and they know her well, too. She sometimes reads to them, especially things that move her. The walls listen.
Dadu brings the thick, bright red curry in a bowl that Mummy uses to keep cut fruit. There is a shiny layer of oil along the edges; little pieces of meat float in the middle. “What do you think?” he asks. I am eager to try it. It’s only because I am hungry!