They lived quietly next door. A family slightly younger than ours. Mamun was their daughter. And she had a baby brother. They would stroll into and out of our place, we would put out tiny chairs for them to sit. One yellow, one copper sulfate. Mamun would often soil our balcony, dig up our potted plants of chrysanthemum, until we took that inevitable decision to hang them from the railing, way out of her reach. She did love our Sunday morning poached eggs, densely peppered. Often, her chiming silver anklets would declare her sudden presence, and make us watch-out. Mamun wore a strange piece of metal, like a pendant around her neck, like it was an animal tooth, or a shell filled with ash. To keep her away from evil.
Quite treacherously, without warning, she died. Was killed. Her family was out on vacation, and we were told, that for one moment they lost sight of her and she was a hit and run. For months, I kept staring at our yellow chair. Her father with his shaven head, would wake up screaming, wailing. But I continued assuming that she was still on vacation and would return. That assumption, I preferred it over the silent acceptance of such loss.
Unable to stand their misery, her family shifted to another place, I believe, somewhere away.
And then the plump woman, with the parrot moved in. All the time, she lived in that apartment, we only heard about her son. Never saw him, he was in another city, studying or working, or something. I imagined he must be a replica of his frail bespectacled father. The plump woman, wore sleeveless blouses, blaming the stifling single bed-roomed existence. And an unforgiving summer.
In the afternoons, she would switch on the TV and chop lady fingers and pumpkin, skin potatoes and slice bitter-gourds on the dining table. Many of those, I spent with her. My siestas were as ever empty of sleep. She introduced me to tea, I owe her that. But it was her parrot that bewitched me. That absolute flirt of a bird, I would try to feed it things, bribing it to shed one of those vibrant, parrot green feathers. I would wait near the cage for hours, I needed one to press between the leaves of my diary. The woman of the house would pacify me saying that she would give away that parrot's chick to me. So I waited for it to lay an egg. Equally impatiently, or more. But, I hadn't known then. That caged birds don't breed.