Kaala Paani

rain clouds

Kaala Paani
by Mandira Pattnaik

Bakru can’t sleep because his father can’t because his mother can’t, so he turns on the bed rags and watches the rain through the open window, rain so insistent it doubles up to cover for his father sobbing and his mother trying to drown hers with the pillow, for there’s a time between now and noon tomorrow when the boots will come, kick their rickety door, slam it down, and he can imagine them drag and slap his father like they did last time, and his mother will fall at the boots begging for mercy, but she’ll be kicked too, and then will begin a series of events where they’ll first sit in courtrooms all day, then take the tiffin carriage with father’s favorite sandesh, and slip it behind the iron gates after paying a bribe to the guards at Presidency Jail because father was ill, dying, and denied meetings for months, but mother says it would be worse, because this time they’ll take him to Kaala Paani, and Bakru can’t gather why water should be black, and why it would be so that they wouldn’t ever visit or why they wouldn’t let father come back when they know he didn’t make the bomb and the magistrate wasn’t even hurt, but father says they’ll hang him there this time, and Bakru keeps watching the falling raindrops, trailing each other, submissive, and hanging from the merciless sky and why they should be down here, helpless, doing nothing but looking at all the blackness.

Mandira Pattnaik is an Indian fiction writer, poet and columnist. Pushcart, Best Microfictions, Wigleaf Top 50 Longlist and Best of the Net nominated, Mandira’s fiction has appeared in over 200 journals and anthologies, including Best Small Fictions Anthology 2021. She serves as the Contributing Editor, Vestal Review.  Find her work at mandirapattnaik.com.

Photo by Valentin Müller via Unsplash.