The shadow dances around you. Follows you like love. Thin layer of stardust on the mirror. Making your face glow. With remembrance. The one that resides in memories of a lost childhood. Like the warmth of your mother’s palm as she gently gathered the early morning dreams. And sung them to sleep. On her lap. So that you may wake up on time. Catch the 6 am bus to school. Cold winter dawns that lived on in darkness. The sun too cold to rise early. And greet the December mornings in Kashmir. Your politeness. Standing by your sleeping father’s bedside. Tie in hand. Collar buttoned. Waiting for him to wake up and tie the knot that confused your four-year-old hands. Funnily he would smile and thank you for it instead of the other way around. This was a family that was quick to express both gratitude and apologize. The sister. Older. Stronger. Helps out by carrying the leather suitcase you would one day call ‘satchel’. Besides her own bag. So that you would have your hands free to swing the plastic water bottle as you skipped your way to the bus at the end of the lane. Humming a song that you had heard your mother sing. Later much later in a life yet to unfold she would still be there. Your sister. Carrying even greater burdens so that your heavily backpacked existence felt lighter.
I learnt to dance.
Befriend the shadow.
Naveen Kishore, publisher Seagull Books and photographer.