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I apologize first, for the paper I’m writing on. This advertisement from a market vendor, it is the only paper I have with me, and I know that were I not to write this now, I would not write at all. I apologize second for the embarrassment of an old woman staring at you as I have, but I ask your indulgence a moment while I explain myself.

Perhaps you would know it from my clothes, but I do not regularly eat in such fine restaurants. I might never have come here at all, had we not celebrated my sister’s birthday here.

More than twenty years ago I had a son with my husband. When he was born he seemed healthy, so the doctor let me hold him, and he looked up to me and smiled. But then he began having difficulty breathing, and they took him away from me. I watched through the glass, too weak to move from my bed, as my son passed.

When my husband died 3 years ago he was cremated, as is our usual custom- but our son was only an infant, and tradition dictated he be buried, to ensure a speedy path to his next life. My husband and I could not afford the Rs 100, so we dug our son’s grave together. In shifts, as we had but one shovel.

And that is why I have come here, every Friday for a month. I feel in you a familiarity, a connection I have been without for years. It is not always popular to speak of such things, especially among the young, but you have my son’s eyes. You have his smile (though it was toothless last I saw it). I think I was your mother, in another life. And in that life, you died before I had the chance to tell you that I loved you, and I do. That is all I felt I needed to say.

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