By Roopa Menon
I think today is the day that she will come to visit me and perhaps take me with her. I think today is the day. I can feel it in my stainless-steel bones.
It could be today because I can smell the banana chips sizzling in huge vats of foaming hot coconut oil. They would be here soon. The pulikali dancers. Every year they would visit us, serenaded by the throbbing beats of drums. Their weather-beaten bodies smeared with varnish and psychedelic colors. In the boiling sun, they would enact the tiger hunting theme, their flabby bellies jiggling to the pulsating music.
I can smell the excitement from here.
Why isn’t she here yet? The Onam feast will begin soon. The traditional banana leaves will be set. Curries rich with flavors and spices will be served followed by the deliciously sweet rice pudding.
Memories. We have so many of them together. I can even feel their prickle on my metallic skin. Even that dent on my back. She had dropped me once. It was many years ago but I had survived it showing my true mettle. She had bawled and caressed my calloused body. For the longest time, she tended to me. My alloyed heart knew then how much I meant to her. It was mutual, of course. I remember making a silent promise to her— that I would always be with her during the skids and bumps of life, and I would like to believe that I did keep my end of the bargain. When her parents split up, when she had her first heartbreak, and even when she fell sick and lost all her hair and looked like a baby bird, I was by her side. I tried my best to weld our lives together. Then one day she just left. That was many Onams ago. It hurts. I wish she would know that us tiffin carriers have feelings too.
Roopa Menon is from Mumbai, India. Currently, she lives in Dubai, UAE. Some of her short stories have been published in Corium, Haunted Waters Press, Page & Spine, and Down in the Dirt. She has also written an MG fiction titled “The Adventures of Chandu and the Super Set of Parents” (forthcoming 2020, Regal House Publishing/Fitzroy Books).