-Delhi, October 13 Smoke presses down on the 5 pm sky leaving the sun bloated and glowing, like a molten bronze medal, or a strange neon fruit. As raptors glide in high, hungry circles, crows keep watch from ragged rooflines, and closer to earth, children run laughing through lanes lined with dust and shuttered shops. This weekend, we’ll read the police have beaten another reporter, and this reading will make us remember this is our city, we must take it back.
The late July damp has settled on the city like a sweat soaked shirt, but you continue on the footpath outside the hospital where workers go to smoke and crows gather to feed on stale roti and seed. Further on, across the road, you give a wide berth to the stinking canine carcass sprawled in the shade of the shrubs outside the park’s back gate; further still, you pass the new camp of tarp and twine that’s sprung up in front of the fenced-in ruins west of the fouled drain’s rush. You’re tiring now, but you understand that if you keep to this path long enough, you may find a forest and a quiet place to pray. Late in the night, sweet water will run through your dreams; you will hear children splashing somewhere outside your window, and from the foot of your bed will come the yelps and gentle whimpers of a well fed, sleeping dog.
Remember how we threw open the windows to watch the storm pass over the city— it arrived just past midnight, and even after it was so far gone that we could no longer hear its thunder, it still lit up the southern sky like fireworks at a farmhouse wedding, or a faulty street light, flickering over a dark, narrow lane in Mehrauli. You told me that if I climbed the wobbly, wooden ladder to the roof, on a clear day I could see Qutub Minar. I wasn’t sure I believed you, but I knew you were right to fear the storm and also to welcome it.