A BEAUTIFUL LIE
father would jerk his head this way and that, sniffing the airlike an agitated rooster. He would look at me and say, “Can you smell a change in the air, my boy? Monsoon is coming.”This feeling was like that. I could sense that there wassomething on its way but it wasn’t rain or monsoon—it waseven bigger.I was walking through the market, cradling a largemelon in my arms, lost in thought, but the scent of jasminetugged me back into the present. I stopped to watch the lineof flower vendors carefully stringing petals into piles of necklaces.Out of all the flower vendors, Jayesh had thesharpest eyes and the nimblest fingers, and his pile wasalways bundled higher than everybody else’s.People from the surrounding villages would come just to see Jayesh sitting cross-legged at his workbenchthreading flower after flower. I made my way across to hisstall. A few months ago he would have had a crowd gatheredround but today there was only me. I watched for a few minutes as he delicately threaded each petal without pausingonce. I waited patiently for the moment when he slipped arose petal into his mouth and began to chew—by the time hehad swallowed the petal, the necklace would be finished. As he slipped a rose petal into his mouth, I smiled tomyself. Some things never changed. But my smile faded as Ithought how recently some things
changed. It appearedthat life continued as normal but there was a tension in themarket I’d never felt before; little signs that things were notthe same.