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A bubbling pot of chai always seemed to awaken the most important questions simmering within Sandhya:
– What kind of moron considers marital rape an oxymoron?
– Does a pork sandwich on an airplane count as pigs flying?
– Would her life have been different if she’d stuck to coffee?

The blast of heat beneath the sink warmed her toes as she watched Shamuna, lost in the zigzags of the ikat rug, tuning the warped guitar. It felt strange to have Shamuna after all those years, hunched over, with the soft yellows of a torn paper lamp brushing across her face. Ah! That face. Time, it seems, had forgotten her.

Steadily, the cranky twangs morphed into a familiar Am E7 G. Shamuna fished a pick from the midnight blues of her tresses. “Hotel California. Just for you, Sandy”, she grinned, as the sweetness of elaichi crept in the air.

Sandhya descended on the couch while her chai waited helplessly near the onions. She listened the way she always did — as though every song that had been written spoke only of her. How did the one about escaping to a beautiful place become one of violence and wine and the inability to ever leave?

The haunting rasp of Shamuna’s voice flirted readily with the old acoustic. A hesitant housefly surveyed the forgotten chai while Sandhya found herself back in their dorm room, giggling between brightly striped covers. How she wished that the weight of a thousand insecurities weren’t shackled to her feet, so she might dance. Dance to remember, dance to forget.

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