To find herself in a space like this, who would have thought it? Walls newly plastered and the wind sweeping through, when a rare wind there was, and otherwise the stillness, the sullen heat of the afternoon, and the tap-tapping of the builders, two floors below, putting in the kitchen – ripping out what had been installed there in the 1970′s and replacing it with gleaming steel and marble that harmonised strangely with the yellow arches – in a way that she would never have been able herself to conceive of, and yet was so easy for her daughter to see.
Her daughter’s house this, a narrow mountain village house recently purchased in this remote corner of Italy, where she had agreed – nay begged – to be installed to oversee the building work that had to be done to make it habitable.
Are you sure you want to do this? Anamika had asked her.
Well, why not?
You do not have to do this, her daughter had said.
But it is what I want, she had assured her.
Anything but to have to return to the flat in Calcutta where there was nothing more to do now but to tell the servants what to cook for lunch and dinner, and then to sit and read, perhaps make a few telephone calls, and receive those that came, and then the stillness of the afternoon with nothing else to do but read again, and finally the world coming life again and a semblance of duties emerging from such necessary events as the re-opening of shutters, children’s voices in the communal garden, footsteps outside of people once again starting to come and go, nothing to do with her at all, but dragging her in nonetheless into a sort of ceremony of living, nothing more than that. And how was it different when he was alive? Her husband, the renowned brain surgeon, with whom she had so little in common, and yet whose habits had girdled and protected her to an extent that she had never supposed until his sudden death had pressed it upon her that she had nothing to do, no-one to be, otherwise.
Read the rest here.