Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Singing Daylight Come And Me Wanna Go Home

by Maya Khosla

After a month of travel, I arrived back home in New Delhi, India, to a brand new lock. When I called my neighbor across the road, she explained I needed to pay her a visit in order to open my door. My place had been robbed.

It was dawn in December. I took my suitcases down one flight of stairs and across the neighborhood road, passing two women in pajamas and woolen shawls who were engaged in loud, friendly, banter about water shortage gripes. A car backed up, emitting a high-pitched waltz.

The mobile vegetable man announced his cartful. "HEY-Ho." Something like the Harry Belafonte song before he sings Daylight come and me wanna go home. The vegetable man's cartwheels squeaked.

"This one is for the outside lock, and this for the inside one." My neighbor placed two shiny new keys in my palm. As I dragged my suitcases back out, through the hallway of potted plants outside her backdoor, she added a weary afterthought. It was spoken softly, more to herself than to me. "It's good you were gone. If they thought you had set eyes on them, they would have slit your throat."

I swiveled around. "No witnesses." Her hand sliced the air under her chin.

I walked up the flight of stairs to the flat I had called home for a year and a half. The outer door of iron now featured a new deadbolt, fresh with its smoky-gray halo of metal turned molten. The deadbolt key was a good four inches long and it took me a few insertions to get the angle correct for a smooth rotation. The new lock on my second door was larger than my fist.

I entered the cold blue shadows and left the front doors open. Despite the break-in and a month of absence, the flat felt comforting. The cane curtains were neatly drawn against the world. My blue sofa, chairs, and two small glass tables were all in place. I exhaled and drew the curtains apart, to allow the hazy light of winter to rush in and touch everything.

My landlord's television set was still there. My sister's homemade gooseberry jam was still inside my fridge. I locked my front doors.

The thieves had ransacked the rooms, but it was a neat ransacking. According to my neighbor and sister, they were inexperienced boys with one goal: jewelry. They had used the outdoor bolt to lock my downstairs neighbor into her apartment— to protect themselves. In trying to switch off her outside light, they had rung her doorbell.

In the middle of unpacking, I remembered my jewelry. I had left a turquoise necklace, gold-and-ruby earrings and a matching necklace inside the bottom zippered compartment of a large, empty suitcase— black cloth with red fireworks painted on.

Had I outwitted the boys? The zip resisted before I managed to buzz it open. All my jewelry was still there. They were inside a gray travel bag.

"HEY-Ho," I sang, loud and clear.

Maya Khosla's writing draws from 15 years of wildlife rescues. She has won awards from Bear Star Press (poetry), Flyway Journal (non-fiction), Headlands Center for the Arts, Hedgebrook, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and Poets and Writers. She blogs at http://saveourseas.com/projects/turtle_diaries. Her screenwriting efforts include narratives for Shifting Undercurrents and Village of Dust, City of Water. Her books include Keel Bone (poetry) and Web of Water (non-fiction).

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