Seventeen Years Later
The houses by the river with their coloured walls, shingled roofs, and manicured gardens are still the same. An occasional bark from behind a dark window or the quiver of a floral curtain are the only signs that the houses are occupied. The one at the end of the road, however, with peeling paint and an iron-gate rusting at the hinges has aged over the years like a sepia photograph. A garden overrun with weeds and squirrels, sticks out amidst the cloned perfection of its surroundings. I remember this house as we used to play cricket in an adjoining field.
I, then fifteen, first saw her drying her hair on the roof in the winter sun. After that, I always aimed the ball inside the boundaries of that house. She must have been in her late forties and would introduce me to the world of Blue Willow and unusual teas, of Woolf, Ghalib, and Dali, of crystal cuts, Cabernets, and Semillons. Later, while finding my way into a world less exotic, our letters would peter out slowly.
Not knowing what to expect after all these years, I thumb the pastel coolness of the orchids as I push open the squeaking iron-gate and climb the three worn-out steps to her front door…
she still remembers
the cricket ball