She wasn't on the balcony when I returned. A few days later, her folding chair was removed. Life at the home across the alley seems to go on, from all outward appearances. Clothes still dry on the lines, the house helper takes a moment to lean over the balcony railing and sip her tea as she gazes down the alley below. I want to know what happened. Maybe they sent her to another relatives home for the cold winter months. Maybe she was too frail to travel and she is no more.
I returned to Delhi after a month's absence and was saddened to not see the little old lady that used to sit on her terrace, head covered, reading through her prayers in the morning sun. She religiously sat there every morning from 7:30 to 9:00 AM. She had a dedicated folding chair that she sat in as her hair dried after her morning bath. Following a time of peaceful rest, she would cover her head with a white cloth and read her book. Perhaps they weren't prayers. Perhaps I imagined that.