Two Things

My maid Lakshmi slipped and fell about three weeks ago, and got a small gash on her forehead. We treated it with antiseptic and so on, and it was okay except for a slight swelling. But she is deathly afraid of anything connected with her head: her two brothers died of paralytic strokes which were apparently related to drinking illicit liquour, but she believes that her family has a tendency for weakness in the brain. So she went for additional treatment to a neighbour in the slum where she lives: the woman poured boiling water from the rice pot onto the swelling. Now her attractive face is disfigured with a blackened mark where the skin burnt. She's not at all stupid, but she has little formal education. Is that why she did such a thing? The slum is a hotbed of rumour, gossip, opinions, superstition - can one live in it and think independently? Her pretty daughter is still a student - does she see the world the same way her mother does? Can she escape?

By the time Baaz reached us it had weakened and become less the hawk which is the meaning of its name, and more like a big bucket of water. I've been fretting for years over water scarcity, and this year, lakes and rivers are brimming and breaching. We've had 154% of the normal rainfall this monsoon season, and it's not over yet.

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