Originally Published in Farrago Edition Six (2022).
The fan whirrs on and on, its blades blending into one smooth white circle as its wind cools my sticky skin. The maid is preparing dinner, the smell of curry powder and the gentle scraping of a coconut spoon settling into my senses. The TV is going, on some modern-day drama depicting a high school romance; my mother and I sit on the sofa, her mending one of my socks. The needle passes back and forth between the cloth and her hand, tracing a hypnotic dance, an occasional flash of silver catching my eye. All the while, her face remains a picture of calm serenity, a great artist at work before their masterpiece I sit in a pair of boy shorts and my father's old oversized t-shirt, reading my book but only half there, my mind preoccupied with thoughts of food and the imminent knowledge of the scheduled power cut soon to come. Just as I turn the page of my novel, click!
The room is plunged into sudden darkness, the TV goes quiet, and the AC switches off with a "bee beep". The emergency light turns on, engulfing us in a dim blue light, creating pulsing shadows that move with every breath, expanding and filling the room, a cocoon of silent darkness. My mother's vintage dark wood almirah suddenly looms over the couch, its wood an added layer of depth, blending seamlessly with the shadows; the couch becomes an unbearable comfort as sweat collects in every crevice of my body. In the full silence that occupies the space of the light that once was, the birds seem to chirp louder, the mynas and the kaputas (crows) singing a discordant harmony with their cricket counterparts. The walls between houses become paper-thin, and voices float out into the street; the neighbour's children discussing their homework, the seeya (grandpa) next door reading out loud from the newspaper to his wife. In the kitchen, the sound of a spoon tinging against the side of a glass cup rings through the air as the maid prepares tea; in the next moment by mother and I are holding steaming cups, the smell of rich milk tea filling my nose. The next hour and a half pass by at the pace of a sloth; in the absence of light and electricity, my mother and I sit on the red polished floor, her fingers running through my hair as we discuss our plans for the future, my time at university and the current state of the country. The rhythmic massaging of my scalp sends me into a dreamlike state of near sleep, my mother's voice coming to me in snatches like a lullaby, her fingers twirling around my hair. Just as I begin to drift into sleep,
The AC turns on, its noise cutting through the silence like a knife. The main lights shine down strongly, nearly blinding my night eyes, and the fan starts up again with a slow "shwee shwee shwee". The TV turns on, and my ears are filled with its noises, instantly pulling me out of a languid state of bare consciousness. Outside, the streetlights start up with a crackle and pop, and the voices from my neighbours go quiet as the noise of appliances takes over. Everyone goes back to their mundane domestic tasks, and that time of quiet lightless solitude is forgotten, fading to the back of minds, like a dream the moment you awaken.