It was Needle who first suggested robbing the Orangutan’s treasury. We were huddled under the tin-sheet roof of a roadside dhaba, stained china cups of chaisteaming between cupped palms, safe from the falling hail. It clattered noisily above us, bouncing off the roof and peppering the ground around our feet. We had nothing to fear from the hail, though, other than a few bruises. Snow was a different matter. But it hadn’t snowed in Karachi for a decade.
Otherwise, this whole being a bird thing? Not bad. Not bad at all.
Like most accidents, this one happened in slow motion: Sharra could only watch as her cat, Pumpkin, tightening his haunches and wiggling his rear, fixed his gaze on the usually-empty cart. That cart was now full of the glass bottles she’d moved carefully from the shelves for her weekly dusting. Large and small, frosty white and brightly colored, sturdy and delicate as spun sugar, all of them swirled with inner light. Her cries of “Pumpkin, no!” accompanied too-slow movements as he launched himself.
Shame. I knew its taste. Tar and salt, the last drag of Marlboro Lights, straight through the filter, on a balmy afternoon by the beach. The Hindi word for shame sounds like its English counterpart but its form was floating in the vicinity of my brain, waiting to drop at a moment’s notice.