to sleep by the sea

What an assumption to make: that a person could be more than a dream made to fit the requirement of someone else.

All of the housemaids retuck their sarees, dhoti-style, and slip on plastic chappals. They tear open tobacco packets viciously and complain about work as they walk on the side of the sea back home. One carries a stainless steel spoon, from the house she works in. It’s the fourth utensil she’s taken, along with a sense of relief. It’s only a small piece of justice, but you have to take what you can get.

What an assumption to make: that whatever would happen between people during the day would influence whatever might happen at night. And vice versa.

When evening comes during Ganpati, crowds sleep by the same sea. Every merchant that has come to address the crowds of Ganesh-toting, shopping Hindus has also brought his wife and kids. Moms of many diligently spread out tarps while their little ones caper around wearing only tshirts and black threads tied over their popping stomachs. These women are Raanis in their own right, claiming monopoly over colours and qualities like determination.

What an assumption to make: that people beg because they are poor, rather than being poor because they beg.

The whole family spreads out to sleep, evenly spaced over the space that they are calling their own for that evening. Over time, they toss and turn and their limbs fall over each others. Husbands and wives that have never known privacy sleep side by side on the ground, under bright lights. I from the west, with the blessing and the disease of too much privacy, watch and wonder what this would be like.

What an assumption to make: to believe that what someone would demand from a relationship depends on how much or how little they are otherwise fulfilled, by their other relationships; the rest of their lives.


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