Saturday, May 17, 2008

makes me feel fine

karrvakarela was prompted to write a memory of a summer afternoon. Given that it's morning and it already feels like it's close to 100 here, this is a meme I can get behind:

It is only hot like this two weeks out of the year, maybe less. So there is no air-conditioning in the house, but for the wall unit in my parents' room, which is only turned on at night. My brother and I sleep in the basement on nights when it gets too hot.

My grandmother, the nice one, is kneading flour and water and oil together at the table while I fill a bucket with cold water. She is not one for silence. We are in the kitchen together, she wearing the lightest sari she can find, I wearing shorts and a t-shirt. She is telling me about the summers in India. How they closed all the windows and the shutters tight, how they turned off all the lights too, just tiny slivers of sunlight creeping through. And then, she says, she would wet the floor with cold water, and it would cool the house down just enough that it was bearable.

As she says this, I have started to clean the floor. We do not own a mop. I am crouched down, washing the floor with a rag, and trying to convince myself it is working. That the house is getting cooler because I am scrubbing. This is linoleum, of course, and we don't have the wooden shutters that can be closed from the inside to shield us from the light. We don't believe in that here.

But it doesn't matter. Her words are like the washcloth she used to lay over my head when I had a fever. They soothe me. I let my hands and the rag linger in the cold water each time before wringing it out again. I let her get me to pretend.

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