Everything is red. The trees look like they’re bending over. The lorry is approaching the village. Nurpur. Don’t tell anyone it was Nurpur. Just say it was any old village. A motorbike was coming from the opposite direction. The driver of the motorbike had no head. It’s because the wounds were so fresh. That’s why he was still driving the motorbike. He must only recently have been beheaded.
Was this during the war?
No, normal days. The lorry driver got so scared, he swerved and crashed into a ditch.
How old were you?
Tell me another story.
Imagine a beehive. It hangs from a branch like a sling. It’s pouring rain. Chacha-ji is getting married. After three days, he has to take his bride back to her mother’s house.
It’s tradition. They are waiting for the bus to come. Chachi-ji is wearing a beautiful sari, silver and pink silk with a golden border embroidered with chocolate-brown flowers. The bus comes after five minutes. They have hardly gone one mile when the top of the bus strikes a low-hanging branch. The beehive falls onto the bus. The bees fly straight through the open windows and sting the passengers’ faces, bodies, eyes. An empty bus is coming from the opposite direction. The bus driver pulls over and waves at the empty bus to stop. All the passengers are taken home. They knock on the door. We don’t recognize them. Their faces are swollen. Are they demons? Are they dead? They have no eyes. We scream! Only my mother, who recognizes Chachi-ji’s sari, knows who they are and lets them in. Then the treatment begins.
How were the stings treated?
There is a fruit that grows wild. It was rubbed on them. Their eyes were like slits. I can’t remember the name of the fruit. Body, everything, was swollen. They could have died. I am telling you these stories because I myself don’t know how long I am going to live.