Nakul Pandey sat staring at the frail corpse that had been his father. A group of mourners in various shades of white sat in vigil. Suffocating floral bouquet notes arose from the garland-draped cover of the coffin cooler in which the corpse had been kept as the mourners waited for Nakul’s older brother, Vipul, to come from the UK and perform the last rites. Through the huddled fog in his head, Nakul observed the cable snaking from the cooler to the switchboard and anticipated that someone might trip over it. He tripped over it when he got up to take a call. A few hands were raised in alarm, “oh-oh” and “watch it” and “careful” were exclaimed, all garbed in the tone and pitch appropriate to mourning. You wouldn’t want to wake the dead especially if the dead was his father, Jeetendra Pandey.
I hated my sister. An easy thing for me to say, despite (according to my parents) hate being such a “strong word.” But it was true; I detested my sister. Loathed her. I didn’t always hate her; in fact, I felt nothing the day she was handed to me.
The chair belonged to the table set I inherited when my mother passed away. It didn’t fit anywhere in the house, not in the kitchen, not in any corner space where it could be made useful. So when my partner decided to claim it for his own, the chair ended up in the garage, at a new table, where it was sat upon and enjoyed, as a resting place, a work place, a smoking place, a social place, and finally, his quiet place. I would hear the legs of the chair scrape periodically when I was in the kitchen, and although it was buffered by the door, I came to know the squeak as a prelude that soon I would have to stop what I was doing. Interrupting myself was voluntary. He would stomp into the kitchen and re-fill his coffee cup. I would generously get out of his way.
“Just follow me,” George said, “and you’ll know everything about Glastonbury, because I know everything about it. They all call me the king, everyone does, even mum.”
“And then she invited him over for lunch! Her man’s not dead a year and she’s already at that bowls club on the prowl.” The old woman’s bonnet bounced up and down as she spoke. The rain continued to pound the pavement as she and her friend passed. Sam listened to her story, smiling a little. If they hadn’t been walking right in front of him he might have thought that they were speaking to each other from across the road, their voices were that loud. He wondered if they realised how loud they were, if they were both hard of hearing or just assumed the other was because of their age.
“The moon loves you, Dad,” said Jeep, one of my grandsons who lived in Maine and who was practically born in the seat of an old ’56 Jeep relegated to the farm. You can imagine very easily that is how Jasper got his nickname. The Jeep was an old army surplus vehicle left over from the Korean War that I was in during all of 1951. From the first, Jeep was a mover, hardly slowing down, except for cows, goats, sheep, hens and ducks, sometimes a pig as big as a mountain, at least big as your house. He roamed the whole farm and knew all its secrets, including the secret visitors that came onto the farm in the night time when most animals and people were sound asleep.
– I’m really sorry, said the paramedic.
– But there’s no blood, I said.
– No. No blood, said the paramedic. You might need to talk to the police.