This short story by Donna Abraham Tijo silently flows through the spaces created between people due to misunderstandings and circumstances to create a thought-provoking read.
Jasmine’s house is rectangular, like the one she had lived in while in India, earlier this year before the virus had sidled in. That house was cushioned by balconies, opening out onto a manicured lawn on one side and a driveway on the other. An apt number of bowers dotted the lawn and she would stroll through them when the sun rose overhead. Along one end of the acre-long lawn had stood a club that housed a gym where Jasmine could often be seen exchanging, with one neighbour or another, contact details for dieticians, while running on some machine or the other, turning up the volume on the TV to listen to some new number or old, only to copy one young or even impossible dance move. And then they’d laugh, Jasmine and her neighbour, at their nimble or not so nimble limbs, promising to try out the jiggle at a party that weekend. There always was one coming around.
Her house in Singapore, where she moved in earlier this year, is shaped the same, with a pressure cooker whistling away somewhere in the South East, a bathroom in the East, and her children dashing out in a fight from one or other rooms up ahead. But in this house, there also seems to saunter in a stench from the lone balcony by the living room in the West, where smoke puffs out, plumes up, and saunters in along with a breeze from the Singapore Strait. In India, Baiju would say, ‘It is vapour Mi Amor, not smoke,’ in the freaky instance in which smoke would trapeze its way in from the high end of one of the many balconies.
The club in Jasmine’s condominium in Singapore is under a circuit breaker, and so are her new neighbours: unknown, distant, foreign.