By Madhumita Roy
“May be you need lots of feathers” Lattu mused. “Lots of really white feathers.”
No one paid attention to the six year old scrawny boy sitting in the corner of the room with a worried face. The sitting room of the eight hundred square feet apartment was bursting apart with people. One kindly looking elderly gentleman walked towards him.
“Have you eaten anything?” Before Lattu could answer, he turned around and looked for someone. A young lady of about twenty-five followed his gaze and came forward eagerly. Lattu didn’t like the confidence with which the lady marched towards him. He was shy, and confidence scared him.
“You know Reshmi didi… sorry Reshmi aunty? Don’t you?”
Lattu nodded his head. He couldn’t remember seeing Reshmi didi or aunty ever in his life; but he didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
“Reshmi, take him to our house and see that he eats something and goes to sleep.”
Lattu looked at his favorite wall clock with bright orange dial. He had recently learnt to tell time. He could not understand why someone would want him to go to sleep at mid-morning.
“Lattu Babu, lets go” Reshmi didi smiled sweetly.
“But don’t you want to know how to make wings?” Lattu finally mustered the courage to confront his abductors. He had been thinking rigorously for the last half an hour about this pressing issue, and didn’t want to be distracted by unwanted food and nap.
“You need feathers.” He raised his voice. “Lots of really white feathers.” The crowd was taking notice. “The feathers can also be of different colors, but then, you will not have white wings.”Lattu leapt and stood up on the sofa. He was almost falling off, but clung to the purdah falling on its pale green surface. He now had a captivated audience in front of him.
“If you do not get feathers, you can cut white chart paper, paste it on cardboards and stick cotton on it, evenly, like this… and then you can tie it with some strong rope around your waist and shoulders. You can keep some extra rope in front, so that you might pull it. So that wings flap, like this.”
The child made flapping sounds and ran around the room disturbing the people automatically arranged in small, somber-looking groups, a little apart from each other. His father had killed himself by jumping from the rooftop about half an hour earlier. The gathered neighbors and onlookers believed that the child, like the wife, was in shock.