In case you’ve read Part 4 before, please note that this is a revised version.
The word spread that Mrs. Godse, for that was her name, knew all the comings- and goings-on in the village. For the very next day, at Uncle Goswami’s grocery store, Mrs. Vashisht, while buying the last of the packaged bread, ran into Mrs. Grover, another neighbor, whose coriander and mint plants were a particularly favorite hunting ground for their common “rabbity” foe. Mrs. Grover was more than all ears. And soon the word traveled across the neighborhood and made it back to their yard, where people, minus the culprit, queued before the scaffold for their turn to climb up and have a talk with their all-knowing savior from God.
“Mrs. Godse,” asked one lady, who’d lost a glass eye the other day and was rather peeved at being teased for her pirate patch, “do you know what happened to my other eye?”
Mrs. Godse thought long and hard as she munched on a crunchy carrot from Mrs. Vashisht’s garden. Her token of thanks for saving her pumpkins. She’d have sent up pumpkin stew or fry, but Mrs. Godse was not a fan.
“Why, my dear,” she said to the old lady blind in an eye, “you dropped it from the terrace while you were spying on your neighbor’s next door.”
To a lad of sixteen, before he could even open his mouth, she said, “The right one, not the left. Your right, that is.” The boy looked up at her, puzzled. “What–” and then he looked down and saw what she meant and smiled shyly. “She likes you back, you see,” she added, winking at him rather crudely. “Now off you go before that other fellow asks her out.”
To Mrs. Naidu, who now wanted to pen a play on the dangling protagonist — “tell her story to the world” in her words, limited as that may be to a handful of villagers — Mrs. Godse had only one request. To make it a musical and give her the starring role.
“But how did you come to be in our village?” asked Sooraj, who one day sneaked out of his room when all the people had gone home and his parents were chatting indoors. “What’s the view like from up there? Don’t you get scared of heights?”
Mrs. Godse laughed. “Oh, dear boy,” she said, “aren’t you full of questions? The thing is, when Mr. Godse left me for God, my biggest fear had come to pass. And now I had two choices, as I see it now. Either to go on or stop completely. And I know Mr. Godse would want me to go on. We had planned to fly around the country, you see. And now I am the only one left doing that.” She wiped an errant tear from the corner of an eye and beamed down at the boy. “I have a dog, Tooting, your age, back home. You’d quite like him if we ever happen to get out of this shell. As for what’s the view from up here, just roll on your tummy and stick out your head over the platform and you’ll see for yourself.”
“Do you know when the sky will unfreeze?” the boy said rolling onto his belly. “Mom says you know everything.” He dropped a huge spitball and watched it fall all the way down. “I and Dad–”
“Dad and I.”
“Dad and I had tickets to a game of cricket in the city next week. I wonder if that’s still on. If the world still exists out there?”
“Well, Mr. Kumar assures me that they are working to mend this hole. And soon I’ll be down and walking among you. As for the world outside, I still feel the breeze on my backside, pardon my French, so no reason to suppose it’s not there.”
The boy rolled onto his back and grinned. “What would happen if someone climbed up the other side and gave you a massive push?”
Mrs. Godse chuckled along with the boy, but couldn’t help wondering herself: Yes, why hadn’t they heard from anyone outside yet? Why hadn’t they come poking around?
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