Several Small Things

I have so little to tell these days, it has taken me a week to find a few paragraphs.

The days are still balmy, the evenings breezy, but veyil kalam, the hot season, is sending out warnings: the sharp beam of light that gets between the curtains somehow just after sunrise in the hot season has found the bottom of the bed, and is creeping up toward my eyes. Long twigs have begun to fall on the badminton court: the crows are getting ready to nest again. It’s all so inexorable.

My gardener, who lived in a slum called Thideer Nagar ('thideer' means sudden, or instant, so the name means something like Sudden Town. I assume that it refers to the way slums can come up overnight on empty ground, like a crop of mushrooms) near the Lighthouse, has been shifted along with thousands of his neighbours to a new, government-built slum clearance project in Thoraipakkam, south of the city. He hasn’t turned up for work for two days. Mary, whose son was also shifted, says that the housing is better there. Instead of palm-leaf huts, there are four-story buildings of one-room flats, with electricity and toilets attached (but no water connections indoors). But residents must pay Rs. 250 a month rent, and must take long bus rides to get to work.

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