A Home For Mrs. Biswas
by Amal Singh
Once she saw the red sands stretch across miles, craters as big as the stadium her father played hockey in, and golden spires shimmering brighter than Amritsar’s Golden Temple, Aparna Biswas didn’t want to live on earth. Of course they were a far cry from her own backyard where, in summers, she would sit on a cane chair and watch the bougainvillaea bloom the shade of a bride’s blush,“string of pearls” flowers wrapped around the wooden railing on her porch, eating a succulent dussehri aam as a pair of ducks swam in the small pond she liked to call her Pacific. But those summers only existed behind a dim haze of memory. She would take a living planet over a dying one any day.
“Beta, I think I might find god there,” she said to her son, tearing her gaze away from the Mars hologram. “Build me a home on that planet and all will be mangal.” She chortled at her own joke. Puns on the red planet had filled the internet, and ever since Sunehri, her granddaughter, had taught her how to use a phone, she kept finding these odd little information trinkets.
“I might have to break all our deposits and still not be able to book a single one-way ticket, Maa,” said Nishant, her son. “Forget about building a home.” In his eyes too, there was a deep yearning to go to the Red Planet. He stood near the window of the living room of his Chembur apartment, looking at the once blue sky, blotted out by an eternal grey smog which was here to stay.
“But our PM said in his last speech there was a lottery system,” she said. “And you know how lucky I am.” It was true. Stories of Aparna Biswas’s luck were splattered on walls of Kolkata, and the gullies of Bombay.