Cardamon Chai

The telegram from her father had reeked of stale-word urgency, but the darkened house was quiet.

She emptied her handbag first. Sari and choli into the laundry bag. Toiletries shelved in her childhood bedroom.

On the side table there was a burned out cone of incense. Someone else’s small gods thanked. A photo beside it, mummydaddyaunty, always and forever, a husked-out thought.

There was a flask in the kitchen, and a candle-lantern alight beside it.

The chai, when she poured it, smelled of a bitter past, softened by cardomon. Ashok, the old cook, had tried, once more, to make this home.

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