Short.

Absentmindedly brushing my hair near the window, an imperceptible flutter near the dusty sill.

A tiny dragonfly.

Tangled in silvery strands of spider web.

Released from its exquisite deathbed I held it in my palm like a fragile piece of blown glass.

It looked at me with what I imagine must be throes of agony, multiplied manifold in its compound eyes.

Or perhaps the quiet slipping away of a wisp of a dragonfly soul.

What was the point, I ask, of all that minuscule beauty? Those airy wondrous wings? That myriad melee of colour and splendor and perfection?

An ignominious, ordinary death in the palm of an IT employee.

What a shame.

Gene pool deterioration.

My grandma huffed in home one day, visibly distressed. Well, as distressed as a blindingly-fair, jet-black haired, 60 something year old with a figure to die for and a propensity to wear the most un-grandmotherly colours, and is generally considered the epitome of malayali oldie beauty, could be.

Mom and aunt were home, as was her long suffering granddaughter with an inferiority complex larger than the collective angst of an emo party.

“Those guys at the junction called me something when I passed by!! I’m older than their mothers! Alavalathikal!

(Malayalam translations will NOT be provided. You get the gist.)

My mom’s snide *cough*”Maybe if you wore more subtle colours….”*cough* was lost on the poor lady who was by then visibly shaking with righteous indignation at the ignominy..the HORROR!….of being publicly hit on by a bunch of young dudes on motorbikes.

(Or so I thought. It would be years before I would realize she was putting on a great show of disgust. )

My 13 year old freckled and myopic self could only choke at the utter unfairness of it all. Dammit, wasn’t I the one supposed to be getting whistled at?

Aunt by then had swung into action.

Aunt: “Charakku??”

Grams: “NO!”

Aunt: Piece??”

Grams: “NOOO!! Something else!”

By then mom and me had pitched in too with our entire scanty arsenal of mallu hoodlum vocab. The perpetrators appeared to be of a breed quite removed from the usual fare of bisyllabic-comments-limited crowd.

It was only once we’d exhausted all the possible native expressions of endearment did my aunt, an M.A. in English Lit., switch to alternatives in Queen’s English.

Aunt: “Sexy?”

Mom poked her in her ribs and the two of them stifled laughter for 5 minutes.

Aunt: “Glamorous?”

Grams (shaking with emotion) : “EGGACTLY!!!”

While her daughters guffawed and tried not to reveal their badly disguised jealousy, I contemplated throwing myself off a high-rise. (I gave up in light of the fact that in my locality, that would be max 3 stories high). Grandma in turn gave up trying to get the meaning of the word from her highly unhelpful daughters and went home with a slightly suspicious spring in her step.

I weep for my female offspring.