The body lay out on the road, where I had placed it. Now and then, I’d go to the window and see it, still lying out there in the bright sun. Of course I had a million other things to do today and could not devote my full attention to it. But every time I thought I had lost myself completely in the task at hand, I would catch myself walking towards the window. And there it was still, lying face-down on the burning tar. His arms were fanned out over his head, legs spread in two different directions, like he had jumped off the diving board and landed into a swimming pool made of tar. Or like the back of the Jesus we saw in church – only without his cross.
I had not wanted to do this to him, but he had left me no choice. I thought of the other body in my house, the one that had been here since last night. I had loved them both equally. But it was because of him that she had died. And so he had to die too. I knew he wasn’t dead yet, but out there in the middle of the road, it was as good as if he was. All it would take was for a truck to pass by at a high speed. How many times have we heard that it is a HIGHWAY and that NO ONE should be on it without supervision?
When the evening snack was served, I began to miss him terribly. He had been my companion in every little thing. As usual, I was served extra food and given an extra plate for him. From my own plate, I took the things I knew he liked the most and placed them properly on his plate. I always drank Bournvita in the evenings. But he hated milk, so I just put some of the powder on his plate instead. Bournvita is very important for our bones and I wanted his bones to be as strong as mine. When his plate was ready, I realized that he wasn’t there to eat from it. For the twelfth time today, I reconsidered going out and bringing him back. But then I thought of my grandmother, sleeping outside in the dark brown coffin. And I changed my mind again.
After the evening snack, I decided to leave my room and go out. Sheela stopped me at the door. “You can’t go out now. They have asked me to sit with you here,” she said. Sheela has all these funny ideas about how she can stop me from doing something. But Sheela is wrong. Yes, she is taller than me but my teeth are stronger than her arms. I think I am the one with the advantage here.
This time too, she tried to hold me back. But the moment I bit down on her hand, she let go. I am proud of the way I have trained Sheela.
Outside, there were lots of people I did not know and some who I know who always smile at me in church. But no one smiled at me now. I think it could be because I was not dressed properly for church. I would have, if I had known. But I simply did not know they would be here. Anyway, who cares?
I ignored everybody and went right up to my grandma at the front of the room. She was still lying there the same way. She never slept in front of strangers. And now there was a room full of unknown people and she seemed to be fine with that. Sheela had told me that she was supposed to be dead. But I had never thought that this is what dead looks like. Seeing Granny, I suddenly remembered him out on the road. Wasn’t he looking like this too? This means he was already dead. But now I wanted him back. No Granny and no Teddy? I suppose I would also die now.
Without even thinking about it, I started crying. I never cry unless I want something. This time, I wanted Granny and Teddy. But now Granny did not stop me. Instead, Daddy came out of the kitchen and picked me up in his arms. I looked down at Granny. She looked very different from up here. Daddy patted my head and rubbed his hand over my back. I did not like this. He did not know I had killed someone today. So I just put my head on his shoulder and thought about things quietly for a while.
When we brought Granny home from the hospital yesterday, she was not talking to us. They put her on her bed in her room and, as always, I and Teddy went to lie down with her. But she did not even ask me to wear my nightdress or put her fingers in my hair. When Daddy came in later, he asked me to get up and go to my room and sleep. Obviously, I could not do that. I had to stay and take care of her. When I explained this, Daddy told me that I could give the job to Teddy and that she would be fine with him.
In the morning, Sheela told me Granny was dead. She explained that Granny would not talk to us anymore. And after today, we would not even see her again. This was not fair to me. I had left the job with Teddy and he had failed. He should also die. I went and found him sitting in the corner in Granny’s room. He did not even say ‘Sorry’ for what he had done. So he had to be punished now. When Sheela was having a bath, I went to the main door and saw that it was open. So I went and got Teddy and we looked to my left and right before crossing the road. Even then, he did not know I was going to punish him. I felt bad going back home alone. But Teddy had done something very bad. He needed to be punished. Mummy always says that if you are on the highway alone, you die.
I lifted my head and asked Daddy to bring me to the window. We looked out and I saw Teddy again. His body was out on the road and he did not move. Maybe he was already dead like Granny. I suddenly felt very hot from inside and my nose was wet with my own tears. I pointed at the body on the road.
“Please Daddy, please bring him back,” I said.