‘Gobi ki sabzi again,’ Piyush cried, cringing at the sight of the small bowl of turmeric-heavy, shredded cabbage with mustard seeds. ‘We had it this afternoon. And yesterday. Give me some other sabzi.’
His mother flipped the thick jowar roti on the worn-out clay stove, as the deep red embers crackled below. She tossed it upon his plate without a word. Piyush stared at the roti. All of a sudden, he clenched his fists and pushed the plate away. It rammed against the steel jug, startling his younger brother, Aayush, seated by his side. Moments later, the bedroom door slammed shut. Their mother quietly dabbed the beads of sweat on her weary forehead and reached out to scoop the soiled food.
Piyush fell upon the low charpai in the corner. A few minutes in, his eyelids began to droop. But before he could drift off to sleep, his hand dangled off the bed and touched the cold floor. His fingers searched for something, slowly at first and then frantically. Piyush got up with a jerk and turned over. He swept his arm under the bed, but it was empty.
‘Where’s my umbrella?’ he shouted, kicking the blanket away.
There was no answer.