by Preeth Ganapathy

It came when autumn came.
There was a feeble knock on the door. He found it
clad in dirty rags, face streaked with tears and dirt,
begging for shelter.
Just for the night, he thought, and let it in.
It warmed its cold fingers and stubby toes by the fire,
grew pink and plump by the hour,
slowed the breath with its heat, tired out the body
with its weight and smiled an evil smile
as it settled down to stay for longer
than just the night.
It banished him to his room,
commanded never to slip out of it,
forced him to wrap himself tight in wool,
sip only unsalted broth, lie on his back for days on end
and watch the ceiling change
from pink to orange and then to black
in silence.

And, one fine day, clutching
nothing but the wind’s thin-veined fingers,
it left,
leaving him free to touch
the prinia's trill,
watch the ladybugs crawl out,
listen to the Indian almond leaves change
colour from green to red
once again.


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