Winter in a rural Punjabi village in ‘93; there is an angel in the house facing my aunt’s.
He must have been fifteen or so, with the grayest eyes I had ever seen – overcast clouds and milky asphalt. I stole glances at him, obvious and unashamed, on a windy December day. His parents ran a kite shop from their porch. My aunt sold yoghurt and rice from hers. The houses faced each other, separated by a dusty road leading to open fields that transformed into puppet theaters on warmer evenings.
Every morning, when they open the wooden doors to display dragons with long tails and spotted butterflies, I am there, behind my counter, pretending to swat flies. (December, despite the biting cold, is a popular time for kite-flying and ice-cream yoghurt.) His white skin is dotted with moles and in his eyes a turbulent winter brewing trouble. I think to myself, You are a farishta out of a Sufi parable. I think so loud that I am sure heard me. I blush crimson and stand by the door or behind the shop counter and spend whatever time I have between bouts of diarrhoea admiring him; thinking farishta farishta.
One week later, in the dead of the morning, we pack our bags for New Delhi. The rented van’s motor makes sputtering noises like an old man’s hacking cough. I wait for him in the middle of an empty street. His eyes crowd my head and become snowflakes. I think about the storms in winter that never quell.
He never came.