Seven for a Secret

Published in the Daily Star Literature Page, February 2008.

The clamor of the children outside her window was as raucous as the flock ofshaliks at whom they were chanting. She rested her elbows on the window as she half-lay, half-sat in bed, watching the yellow-billed, brown birds fight amongst themselves over grass seeds. The children stood nearby, watching them, touching their forefingers and pinkies to their lips as they recited the well-worn mantra. She had done the same when she had been a child, solemn in the belief that the number of shaliks one spotted together bespoke the day’s destiny. How many shaliks were down there now?