Her mother in Kolkata always used to look at the sky, rainy season or not and dictate what the family had to wear for university or school. When they went to the Botanical Gardens in the city near the Hugli River the necessity of cooking the right foods and correct shoes was a must. And her Grandma’s samosas were just perfection.
Daksha is out for a walk. It is an expedition for her. When the weather is right, here in Fife she will venture from their bungalow round to the small row of shops that are on the edge of the industrial estate. The expanse of window factories and workshops starts as their small town finishes.
The covering of the sari across her head will do. It is December but mild. The wild misery of the rain whipping across the country and kingdom have stopped. Today, Sunday it is quiet. The boys-their grown-up sons are busy with the cars in the driveway and her husband is working in Edinburgh. The animal laboratory has an important-and rushed job for the Department of Agriculture.
The small field near the roundabout that she walks near to get round for her walk sometimes has deer in it. Once a kestrel sat making its own film while young rabbits ventured beyond their mother’s control. She thought it must be young as the beak was overly yellow, she thought so anyway. A biologist, she was not an ornithologist.
‘Was.’ It is the past tense, she thought, as she carefully crosses over the road that bent round toward the first corner in the estate.
A stint in Penn State University teaching and the lectureship in Poland. Yes, she thinks she has been luck. And family. Above all, family.
The anomaly of an atypical carcinoid, this would kill her. Not a benign tumour but one as aggressive as the fighting at Partition that had killed her army father.
The twilight of this unusually warm December could allow her to walk slowly. Though sometimes she still got a strange look from the various garbed gym visitors who jogged, ran or drove past her as she went on the walk.
One time a nice young girl had asked if she was okay. The pain that day had been terrible. The operation had been a total failure. Private hospital or not. The operation had taken place in Edinburgh. Proficient-they had not been. Like cancer, respect and reality sometimes did not go hand in hand.
The circuit has been completed. Daksha is tired and her elegant movement is more stilted and almost a limp might be seen if someone was watching her.
The walk back into Coaltown is a short one. The wall of their garden can be seen as she turns the corner onto the straight road into the village.
Two women-obviously ‘Power Walking’ come toward her and pass vigourously without talking.
The gritty surface of the old pavement sounds out her steps back to home. In the field she sees the wild cherry tree at the back. It is heavy with berries. The sodden earth in the field beyond is churned by the small Shetland ponies.
Her sons moan every time she mentions the ‘poor wee ponies’.
The street lamps are lit by an invisible hand as she is some twenty metres from her gate.