Privileges: Chapter 1

Natasha reigns this 3BHK apartment. She marks her dominance all over the dana-finished lavender walls, forlorn curtains and the unattended bedsheets: A blue crayon is the sceptre of her choice. Once done bluing her territory, she now chooses a blank A4-sized art paper and expresses her divine authority on it through the earthly shape of an African elephant. An African elephant is what she calls it, though it rather resembles a cow dyed blue.

African elephant roots back to the story that Natasha’s grandmother told her to bed last night, where a cute baby elephant gets isolated from its herd and befriends a village boy. Natasha isn’t that benign five-year-old who lets the elderly storyteller go unconfronted for the minute technicalities in the story. She led on: “What’s a herd?”

“A group of elephants is called a herd.”, Grandma replied.

“Whoa! So that means elephants also live in groups, just like us?”

“Of course! Isn’t that what you normally expect? You always like to be with friends right?”

“But I used to think elephants are just like meows and doggies… you can pet them. I did know they live in the jungle, but I won’t believe they have a life there. I just cannot imagine an elephant outside a circus ring.”, whined Natasha.

“Well there are many kinds of elephants…”, Grandma continued her course with the weight of the headmistress that she had been for the past 30 years. This eventually was prompted to the very context of African elephants, which now finds its manifestation in Natasha’s artistry.

The lazy afternoon sun peeps in through the neighbouring skyrises and the curtain-window, shines on the maroon half-open auto-defrost refrigerator door. An overturned borosilicate cup and a delicate fruit custard spilling from it mourn the absence of an adult supervising Natasha. The red sun shines on Mr Sohni’s crayon-vandalised off-white shirt, and on the pale cheek of Grandma sleeping on the sofa, for the last time of the day.

“Look, Grandma!”, Natasha shakes Sushma, “I drew an African elephant.”

No reply. Natasha would have wondered what her nasty Grandma was up to in her dreams, and to Natasha, dreams now meant befriending cute baby elephants. She would have nurtured grievances about she being left out of the fun Grandma and the elephant were having in an alternate reality for a bit longer. But the doorbell rang.

Thanks to Natasha who has secretly figured out how to open the door latch just a couple of days ago. Mr Sohni could enter the apartment. Not much after he began to take on Natasha for the nuisance did he realise that his mom wasn’t breathing.

(To be continued)