The school bus comes early, carrying children with sleepy eyes and silent tongues. Somehow, little K and I scramble to make it to the stop just in time. I high five the air in my head as I stroll back home, taking the long way back.
As I watch my feet taking slow steps, I hear the sweeper drag her broom. It sounds like a swishing wave. At a distance, there’s an answering sweep. Another sweeper, another lane.
Saree clad, these women move gracefully as they clean lanes before the world wakes up. They swish as a symphony of sounds mark different spots as they swiftly finish cleaning up. Maybe they sing silent songs in their minds. Maybe their music is the cacophony of houses coming alive with whirring blenders and whistling pressure cookers. Maybe it is just the swish of their brooms.
By the time, I return to my lane, there are neat little piles of twigs and dead leaves. That’s where the pigeons must get them from as they try to build a home in my garden. Sometimes there are patterns in the dust and I wonder if the ladies make it to admire as they pause to gather their tidy heaps. A fleeting rangoli just for their pleasure or maybe I’m just seeing things where they do not exist. And then, sometimes, I pick a fallen flower to crown their tidy islands of leaves.