Hot afternoon with sleepy kids and sweaty backs. Opening the windows was fruitless as there was no breeze. I taught Elias how powdered milk really makes milk . . tidied up, studied the line of ants making their way onto our bed .. and thought about what kind of soup I was producing as I added potatoes and pumpkin to my pressure cooker. Maia was crawling eagerly to the door, so I left my soup half-way done to go outside. Tiny baby hands in mine practicing walking on the open field. No sweetie, not in your mouth, that’s a rock . .
My neighbors are sitting in the shade.
“Where were you these past days? I have some vegetables on the tree waiting for you!”
“What did you eat for lunch?”
“Is she walking yet?”

And the newcomers in the neighborhood . . “Can she speak Bangla?”
“Are all foreigners white?”
“Are your sisters white?”

My friend’s hair is now massaged, combed, and full of coconut oil. She flicks it, long and wet, up into a bun, grabs my baby and heads across the field. I reluctantly follow, and soon my son, who is wearing more dirt that clothes, joins us on a stroll to the well at the next corner. The well is gone but there is a hole in the pipe where women are bathing and filling pitchers. These ladies have seen me pass for years but have never had a chance to talk and they take it eagerly. It’s rapid fire questions until we all notice the sky going from blue to black, the wind picking up, and we grab our babies and hustle while Elias asks his rapid fire round. Why is the sky black, Momma? Where is the rain? Why are we going home? On the way a friend who I haven’t seen for a few days pulls me into her courtyard to chat, promising me that the clouds looked just as black yesterday, and we didn’t see any rain, did we?? But when she runs inside to close her windows I yell to her that mine are open too and grab my kids for a second time.

Crossing the field, the boys are yelling to the wind, rolling up their lungis and pant legs, spreading their legs wide in a half squat under the swaying mangoes. The mangoes are like Christmas tree decorations, hanging on by slim threads. Shall we catch a mango, Elias? Just as I say that a mango lands a foot to my left. I lunge, confident that it’s mine. Not so. A teenage boy lunges deeper and faster and scoops it up triumphant. The dust is in my eyes, and I’m aware of Maia on my hip, taking in the intense noise of the storm. We leave Elias looking very small and eager under the fruit laden tree and head for home. I hand my baby to a neighbor so to get my windows closed in time, but too slow, the sand is everywhere. With a crash, down comes pumpkin peelings, dishes, cutlery, and a table fan onto the floor in the kitchen and with another bang the power is out. Too late.

But not too late to stand on the veranda with our kids moments later, to watch the তাল গাচ (palm tree) wave it’s hands to the wind. Baby hands stretch to get wet, and we laugh at a neighbor, sopping wet, dragging her toddler home. His pants are falling down and his Momma must think that he’s too young to be out under the mango trees in the fierce of the storm. My childhood comes back with the smell of the rain, and my kids, blinking at the lightning, will remember too.

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