QUEEN OF THE BALCAO

URVASHI BAHUGUNA

 
 

of an ant-hill brimming over, of the green burst of a pepper plant, of mosquito bites plumping
up an arm, of the ping-pong call of a nightjar, of a boat whose nose is turned up at the grove, of
vinegar and red chili pound to make one sweat, of coffee on the balcao, of an umbrella blown
skeleton side out, of weeds between toes, of cashewfruit stains impossible to wash out, of
uncorked feni stinking up the house, of crab scuttle and crab tracks, of rain stains on every car,
of local ghosts who show up every three hours, of twin bridges where people fish after dark, of
the lithe tree snake wound around the latch, of the rocky seaface embroidered with moss, of
coarse morning bread left in the mailbox, of monsoon waves smarting against the beach, of
fishbones picked clean, of dribble-drabble between palm trees, of spiders feasting on papaya
splatter, of red-eyed and red-bellied snapper, of sprawled siestas on four poster beds, of paraffin
stubs on church steps, of frogs hiding in socks, of patties greasing brown paperbags, of seven
layered coconut cake, of paddy fields specked with cranes, of meat twisted into sausages and
dried on people’s porches, of the ferry growling as it crawls to port, of champas fallen face
down, of the hammock cutting into thigh, of sunburn and sea-sweat, of the glass of beer that
catches fire as the sun sets.

 
 

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