Here we are, entering the 29th week since the lockdown. The weeks rolled by, every Monday feeling like a new beginning, a fleeting illusion that Monday will last longer than it did last week, only to be overrun by the rest of the week rolling by. The passing of months is marked by haircuts, and I ordered proper scissors on Amazon. Saturday is the walk up to Mc Leod Ganj bazaar, a steep 2 km climb. It was hot at first, then drizzly, and now sunny again. We shop for vegetables, mangoes have come and gone, apples are the fruit of the month, accompanied by guavas and persimmons, a local novelty grown in the hills, and referred to as ‘Japan fruit’. The Kashmiri vegetable seller likes to show off his Tibetan, and sends Dechen to the back of the shop for the best choice.
The monsoon came and went. It enveloped the house in mist, bringing with it windless downpours that kept our clothes in a permanent state of floppy wetness. Norzin and Baby D ‘s cries over the proliferation of spiders, which they claimed were getting bigger and more numerous eventually caused an exodus from their room into Dechen’s. Scorpions joined in, and were taken more seriously. I found one lingering in the hallway late one night, trying to look small against the wall and had to plop a glass over it and evict it into the garden. It was about an inch and a half long, fat, and of mousy grey color. Yiga refers to them as crabs and everyone is careful to check their shoes. Outside, there are leeches, the first time I encounter them in my garden after 41 years. Kalsang remembers them from his Assam jungle days, when he first came to India, where they dropped off trees and were removed with salt. I came in one day with one in my pant leg and he found it hilarious.
Baby D asked Dechen to check the bathroom for spiders, and she came back with a grin, saying she needed help to remove a snake. It had peeked at her under the door, dark, thin and the length of a tall man. Sochoe, who can handle any creature, was called in and swung it into a wastepaper basket with the help of a broom. It made several attempts at escaping, its undulating body emerging out of the basket, only to be pushed back in and rushed into the garden.
Now the sun is here all day and the cicadas are screaming, crowding around the screen of windows at night, craving for light. They will die off, the final phase of their lives coming to an end with the coming of winter. We built a treehouse for the children, a solid metal and wood contraption around an enormous tree. The monkeys love it too.