On Tuesday, I had lunch with Annapoorna. She ran late but the meal was sumptuous & between us, slightly overspiced. She is known for dramatic excesses, after all. I told her I wanted out. She nodded & picked out a ber. We both know what grows in this city stays here.

I looked eastward. Last month I was in 1898, listening to sound of stones falling & walls rising. And minutes later, in 1973, the rusty clang of gates shutting, of fabric ripping and the wails of the dying. “So?” she said, looking a young woman tottering by in a rayon jumpsuit. Prawn curry & hot khichdi jostle uneasily on the plate.

The sea carried out my despondency & returned with new/old hope. The crunch of fresh coconut married to garlic always grounds me, no matter what we call the bread.

I know this is why she picks this particular part of the rocky coastline for our meetings. Island magic floats on the paradoxes of time. Fortunes rise & fall but the blessing stays the same.

Wear a mask next time, she tells me & I can feel her salty warmth. It makes me sweat, I say. As I return to my time, I feel the layer of dust, smoke, faded dreams, dirty waves and a slightly acidic smile on my face. The goddess of plenty never leaves me without gifts.

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Fiction after a long time. I love meeting who I have already been. Tell me what you think. This is part of a collaboration with someone I’ve known only from afar from their stories that feel so close – Philip of Labyrinths. The series is called Literary Fast Food.

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