The air reminds me of home, and I’m comfortable in the heat. Sweat here rolls slowly down the back of my neck and the wind that usually cools it on my shirt is non-existent. Strange it’s only February in the city where the dead burn for days.
I’ve imagined my grandmother’s face in the ashes here. And it bothers me that her eyes are still open, watching us around her pyre. She’s not Hindu… or even Indian for that matter, but I’m sure she would have appreciated the sentiment, returning to her composition by the holy river Ganges, in that ancient city of Benares.
A boy eats an ice-cream by the road, and I ask him which flavor is best. He motions to the picture of a mango on the cart, and takes his leave down the road shortly after, walking the path worn thin by bare feet in between nearby villages. I walk hurriedly down the same road and a village of men has been hired to erect the nearby brick kiln’s smoke stack. They’re all strong and heave what looks to be a rocket skyward. When the work’s done they leave down the road again, and you can see more stacks rising up over their heads into the fields behind them.
I find the most peace walking the streets of Kolkata at night… it seems the city sleeps all together. One big exhalation before the next day begins. Families sit together on the side of the railroad tracks, in front of their homes. Babies scramble on top of the wooden beams as their mothers chase them, and I’m invited into a modest home for tea when a train passes by. It’s a feeling I’ve come to appreciate, being welcomed in to a stranger’s home.
At last, I’m dreaming again.