Suddenly I am ten years old again; I have fallen asleep in the car. Droplets of rain tap gently on the window, and I find myself blessed with the harmonious blanket of nature’s favourite lullaby. I awaken to the welcome buzz of a world painted anew, only this time, in all the right colours – the paintbrushes of all the people, their stories trailing gracefully behind them, imbuing these dreary London streets with some chromatic vigour, at long last. People, as a weary-eyed decade-old me comes to realise, are walking stories. And the world that is only partially visible through that gaping-hole she has made in the condensation is a canvas, dirtied by self-important human footsteps, but washed anew, time and time again, by the quiet and cleansing pitter-patter of autumnal rainfall.

Somewhere in the distance, a baby shrieks under clinical lighting, and with a burning desire to be held. In this very moment, a new voice is formed; a new story is born. I wonder if this bundle of plot-lines knows that the same arms that have carried her today from hospital bed to Nanu’s frail arms, which are outstretched in loving anticipation of her new grandchild, are to be the same ones that carry her from evening back-of-the-car slumber, into a house that smells like cinnamon and stir-fry, ten years from now.

In a dimly lit kitchen a short walk away from here, Nanu is preparing a vat of aromatic chicken curry to send over tomorrow. For now, however, decade-old story gets ready to sleep between warm white sheets; her colours – the very stuff of dreams – begin to seep out from raven tufts of hair, spiral and somnolent messes in every conceivable shade of purple. Decade-old story takes a final look at the urban canvas she is to bid farewell to for the next eight hours or so.

Outside, a car scurries past on rain-drenched cobblestone. A smallish hand presses against the coolness of the back window, forming a small space in the condensation: a gaping-hole, a new lens through which the world, in its partial entirety, is going to be viewed.

Sadia Ahmed, 2019 

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