By Shivani Mehta
Dear Grandmamma (1)
It rained today and I remembered how you always said thunderstorms brought news of old lovers. I am writing this letter as I sit at our favorite restaurant, even ordered what we always did, shepherd’s pie and a pint of Guinness. Its been raining everyday for a month. I find myself growing restless. Last night while everyone slept I went out in my nightgown. How perfect it looked, wet and glistening. The rain seemed grateful I was there, to witness its falling. That’s why you always went out when the sky was dark and heavy. Last week I took a crowded bus to the museum, it smelled of damp wool and cigarettes. I stood next to an old man on the bus, our fingertips touching along the metal rail as water dripped from the rim of his hat onto my patent leather pumps.
The children loved the candied fruit. They ate the whole jar in two days and were sick enough to miss school the rest of the week. They say to thank you and send their love.
Dear Grandmamma (3)
Do you remember the summer I turned into an orange whenever anyone looked at me? It made people so uneasy, especially the teachers at school. When the other students began changing into fruit – peaches, bananas, pears, persimmons, I was sent to the principal’s office. I waited while they telephoned you, each overheard phrase – “…not the first time…”, “…disruptive behavior…” – made me more ashamed of my roundness. I tried to think of things that had nothing to do with my metamorphosis, like the taste of raw honey on my tongue, the unbearable sweetness, and I thought of the girl I’d read about in the paper who ran away on a train to France, imagined I was her. I remember how the clock ticked, how a couple of flies kept me company, how your heels clicked on the linoleum as you walked down the hall. How you told me I was perfection, ripe and succulent.
Yesterday Charlie fell out of the tree in our yard, broke his arm. He is delighted with the cast, and all the fuss. P sends his love.
Dear Grandmamma (8)
Dear Grandmamma,P is well and sends his love. The children have been ill this week, Charlie’s fever was very high and I thought of the fairy tale you used to read me, about dead children turning into constellations in the night sky.
Why is it that when there’s bad news, people insist that things will look better in the morning? Is it because light filtered through glass on a wintry morning alters reality? I’ve been wondering ever since a new tenant took the house next door. He spends his days lounging in the courtyard in his dressing gown, singing Italian love songs. On Sundays he puts on pants and plays the violin. The young couple on the other side of the garden complained last week that he wakes their new baby. I watched the man today through the window, watched how the light grazed his face and bare chest, how it came in the kitchen at an angle and warmed my arms, my neck, my breasts under the thin cotton shift. And I thought how intimate it was that the same beam of light touched us both. Then the light shifted, everything blurred and was less magnificent. Even his singing seemed louder and off-key, more sullen than joyful.