We fell silent as we took in the sights on the banks. At some places along the journey the shore was close enough to see the women squatting by the waterside, washing clothes or dishes, looking up disinterestedly at the passing boat. The sun was bearing down upon us, and, sitting in the deck of the boat, we began to feel uncomfortably hot. Some of the women went below to escape the heat. A girl of six or seven years old was fussing with her Mother as she wanted to stay on the deck.
The frustrated Mother turned to her husband. “I can’t bear this heat. I am going below. Do look after Annu.”
Annu jumped with joy as her wish was granted, and stood at the railings at the back of the boat, watching the shore, her face raised against the wind. Her beautiful pink flowing dress looked quite uncomfortable in the heat to everyone else, but she seemed oblivious of the humid weather squeezing her sweat glands to work overtime. There was a hotel in the middle of the water to which our boat was aiming, which was to provide us a Malayali sadya, after which we would turn back.
The heat was beginning to make me quite sleepy. I yawned wide, stretched and considered going below as the sensible women had done. A quick movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention.