Amba sits alone in her brother’s small basement rental, warming her hands around a cup of tea. Bars of weak sunlight dip in through the window, painting stripes on the vinyl flooring and over the pile of laundry she has gathered. Her brother’s trousers are on top, the pockets inside out. A quarter, a dime and five cents are lined up neatly on the kitchen table in front of her. Beside the coins is a bowl of lemons, mute promises of summer.
It has been four months this week that she has lived here, since she exchanged her life with the man she came here to marry for picking up after her brother. The white noise inside her head is quieter, has been replaced by the blank silence of the sleeping city outside.
On the radio, an accented voice reports that interest rates are being cut, the IMF is warning of global recession. The steam rising from Amba’s cup licks her face with the scent of cardamom. If she closes her eyes it feels like someone’s breath on her cheek.
She hears the door shut above her, as it does at this time every day, and then footsteps drumming louder, closer.