[Issue 3/November 2012]
The Crater Doesn't Move
by Bhaswati Ghosh
I've stopped sleeping in our bedroom. Without the blare of heavy metal booming out of Shankar's room, slumber eludes me. I lie on the blue-green cot on the terrace, staring at the sky. Sleep is still absent.
I sit up and light a cigarette—my nemesis and redemption.
Fluffy mounds of cloud shroud the moon. As the cloud masses drift along the darkening horizon, the moon ambles with them. But this isn't supposed to happen. Doesn't the moon stay in one place while clouds sweep over it? If this is some strange celestial phenomenon, I will take it. Anything that defies reality.
My smoky mind joins the floating clouds.
Shankar makes it to the army. "You just see, Baba, I will make the cut for the Air Force," he tells me when I suggest he should join the infantry. He's always been defiant; who am I to say he wouldn't defeat bronchia- asthma to rule the skies?
A small patch of cloud scuds across the sky.
Eight months after I buy him a motorbike, Shankar promises to pay me back by flying fighter jets. "With interest even—a Hyundai Santro."
A dense cloud lump is taking forever to move. My chest throbs.
Shankar remembers the date of my heart attack. A year later, he wants to celebrate. "Baba, only vegetable stew for you. Biryani for us!" Laughter all around.
The morning after, we take out Shankar's dead body. Asthma wins.
At dawn, the clouds depart. The moon hasn't moved an inch. It's the crater within me.
Bhaswati Ghosh writes and translates fiction and non-fiction. Her first book-length translation from Bengali into English–My Days with Ramkinkar Baij–has been published by Delhi-based Niyogi Books. This work also won her the Charles Wallace (India) Trust Fellowship for translation. Her stories have appeared in Letters to My Mother and My Teacher is My Hero– anthologies of true stories published byAdams Media.
Bhaswati has a background in journalism and has contributed to several websites (including Humanities Underground, Global Graffiti,The Four Quarters Magazine, Parabaas, Asia Writes) and print magazines (Teenage Buzz, ByLine, Cause and Effect). She has also written for major Indian dailies such as The Times of India, The Statesman and The Pioneer. Bhaswati currently lives in Ontario, Canada and is seeking agents/publishers for her non-fiction book, Making Out in America, a humorous, anecdotal account of her brush with American English.