Kakiya Wears a Half-Sleeved Shirt While It Snows

Mandira Pattnaik


Kakiya never sleeps, watches the breeze scatter white and magenta bougainvillea on the walkway, marvels at their rapid growth, the healthy inflorescences, reminds her of the vines they brought from Okinawa twenty years ago, how they have since crept upon the iron gate and colonized the nameplate “The Sengupta’s”, owned the courtyard of this lonely mansion in Delhi, more so since Gogoi stopped his weekly visits to cut and trim because he’d been too old to hold the scissors, Did she pay the old gardener last month?, Kakiya isn’t sure, her memory fails her often and she’s offended by it, and with eyebrows loosely knotted, she periodically wonders aloud: It snows in Toronto, but it never snows here, keeping more syllables resting on her heavy tongue than they spill, eyes watery remembering her only son-now-man-now-husband in that faraway city, suddenly reverting her thoughts to: Only if someone fastens the window here, on the right, for the north wind now slaps her face, and she can’t remember who opened it this morning; she’s cold and full of inhibitions as an oversized striped half-sleeved shirt hangs from her frail shoulders no better than if she was a hanger, legs bare, but she doesn’t call for help for it might be bothersome, might trouble the middle-aged untrained lady caregiver she found to hire with great difficulty, because there are no nurses around in this country where the need and needy never meet, and Kakiya’s stare is hollow, eyes blurry, limbs shaky, she can feel her body withering away, no hope of regeneration, and all she desires is that she sleeps in peace.


Mandira Pattnaik‘s work has appeared in print and online, including in The McNeese Review, Penn Review, Quarterly West, Passages North, DASH, Miracle Monocle, Timber, Contrary (also included in Wigleaf Top 50 in 2023), Ilanot Review (also included in Best Small Fictions in 2021), and Prime Number Magazine. More at mandirapattnaik.com



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