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THE WEEK|September 19, 2021
Short story
ANJULY MATHAI

It was an old house—the one I used to live inbuilt by my grandparents when they moved here to start a leather business. I never considered it home until I lost it. Its absence made it more present to me than its presence ever had. Now I was returning, not to reclaim it, but to see it one last time before it would be razed down and replaced with an apartment complex. Twelve years ago, I lost my family to Covid-19. Right before the pandemic began, I remember a conversation I had with my father.

“Sixty years is the life span of a concrete house. This one is around 48 years old. So in 12 years, we’ll be moving out,” he said.

“To where?” I asked.

“Well, let’s see,” he said lightly.

“Maybe to a beach house in an exotic location. Or maybe a summer cottage with lace curtains, and a library with a fireplace.”

Then he winked.

“Or maybe we’ll just move in with you.”

“Why me?” I asked. “Why not with

Shreya? After all, she’s older.”

“She’s too messy,” said my father. “We don’t want to keep tripping over a pile of dirty laundry in our old age. We’d rather stay with you.”

“Shreya,” I hollered out to my sister, listening to Pink Floyd on the verandah. “Appa says you’re too messy.”

“Ya,” came her dry response. “Tell me something new.”

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