Prose | Nabina Das

Memory of a Bloodshed

Fragmented (acrylic on canvas) - Reshma Thomas

He was so bloodied that we had to use clumps of cotton to wash him. We needed more, but had to tear old saris. Mother makes me sit next to her and listen. Not sure I want to hear all this. The day was fine apparently, a little warm. A breeze blew from the east. A cousin of mine was visiting. Much laughter and chit chat in the house. My cousin and my father had gone up to the sunny terrace after a hearty lunch. They ate big Katla pieces. A big bone had pricked his thumb and mother rushed for a little cotton swab. Premonition? Never scrub a blood wound. Always press the damp swab, she says. He never went to the terrace in the afternoon. Only in the mornings to see birds from Bay of Bengal. A stroke is nothing unheard of, particularly for a septuagenarian with a history of hypertension. But when he fell, a ramrod toddy palm, apparently it was a devastating sight to my cousin. That bird is here right from the morning, he’d told her before blacking out. I breathe noisily and say I understand that blood oozing from the nose and ears must be wiped with huge clumps of wet cotton, slightly dampened in Dettol. Listen, always remember to get several sanitary napkins to soak the blood well. They bandage well too. Keep those packets handy, especially the long thick ones. Mother thumps the bed cover making mild craters on the sheet. Then she suddenly sees me stare hard and smiles. Too bad I didn’t have them then. It’s been a long long time you know.

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