Five Years.

It is 19 February, 1994.

A thick fog covers the environs. I am a petite, plump figure in a white elementary school uniform. The tunic is neatly set in pleats and matches with the white sneakers I wear. My father, in contrast wears an artichoke green sleeveless sweater. We are walking back home – I am crouched on the baby seat of my father’s black Hercules bicycle.

On this road that we take, lives a milkman. The faeces of the bovine are collected on one side of his door to be turned into dung cakes. This short distance is warmer but the reek assaults the nostrils. Two buffalos stand ruminating, their moving tails occasionally catching the arms of the passersby. I tilt a little to the left towards my father, when we cross the buffalos, to avoid their tails. I am scared of the black beasts but I know, my father does not fear.

We now pass under the expanse of the Indian lilacs – baptized in the season’s precipitation but with promising augur of the approaching spring – when my father tells me.

“It is your birthday today. You are five years old.”

My father keeps the bicycle in balance. Perched on the baby seat, my legs extending on the footrest, I keep my eyes on the road.

“Five years”, I repeat, more as a question to him. He repeats again in a deep, calm manner. I hold the handlebars of the bicycle, my peripheral vision picking up images to accessorize this moment, for the long term.

I see my father, his bicycle, the white uniform, Indian lilacs, the buffalos, the fog, and the long road. Other facts are not considered, perhaps not needed to a five-year-old. We walk past the Indian lilacs and not long ahead, the road now bifurcates – to the left and to the right.

On this day in 1994, as always, my father and I turn right.

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