Anjali Deshmukh
 
 
 
Conflict Salt Stories:  Colorless Future

On the day we were sent out, there was a cyclone over the Arabian Sea, suspiciously monochromatic as we looked down on the ocean's surface. We took many photos and recorded the event quite zealously. Too zealously. This is how I came to realize two things: that grays are not what they seem and that photographs could be omens of the future, not just recordings of that present moment. When I showed her the photographs, she said to me, "Well of course it's gray, the monsoon is right around the corner."

She pretended as though she hadn't seen it. Like the floating colors weren't there.

Until I took her right up close, up to that point when denial was inevitable. Then, the rainbows were hard to ignore. "It's not that surprising," she said. "The whole sea has just got to catch fire some day. Salt weapons don't win land, they only lose water."

What was she talking about? "You're messing around again. It's not very funny." I said.

"Well, that's why we went up there in the first place."

"Ok... Is that what they want? Land?" 

"They say they want water, they say they can sculpt the monsoon. The art of rain. " 

I was incredulous. "How?" 

"With salt. With that symbolic monument to culture, history, sensation, preservation. It's a carrier of things already. Rain, colonialism, resistance. Rainbow agents are a natural next step." 

"How do you know this? How are you so sure?" 

"Don't ask me things I can't answer."

So I waited a while. Then, I forgot all about it. We got married, I didn't pry, and we got divorced, and watched our two children die in a car accident. So much love... and still their lives were destroyed. Could it really be that simple? One day I wondered, did I really forget her future or did IT transform our children's past, shift the tint of a path? Nameless, intuitive premonitions floating in the air.

It makes sense. And the day that I realized that was the day that the waiting began all over again. So I had to ask her again. We were barely on speaking terms, but it was turning into an obsession for me. I invited her for coffee under the pretext of talking about the kids. While she was delicately adding sugar, I pulled out the photos-- I still had them rolled up in the attic in a ball of dust-- and asked her if she remembered. 

"Did you mean what you said that day?" I asked, putting the photos next to our son's last hospital bill. She shrugged.

"It's only a matter of time."