She always liked the fine hairs on her nape. Much like the widow in the village who needed to remarry, she would cock her head in different positions in order to examine her best self. The rusted mirror in the garden was her favourite place to do so. It would mean positioning herself in between the thorny planks of wood and the array of damp gardening tools in the corner behind the shed. She would close her eyes and envision the painful memory of prematurely releasing doves from the straw basket at her cousin’s wedding. She counted each dove that flew above her head and when it got to the last one she would open her eyes. Wherever she found herself standing was, on that day, the best place to stand in front of the rusted mirror.
It was pointed out by Nusret, her friend in secondary school that she has a definite line. They both left their tiffins at the foot of the school shed and ran into the girls’ toilets so she could see for herself. Upon careful examination, they concluded that she had hair nowhere else but her nape. Nusret asked her to check her neck but with sincere regret she tells Nusret she doesn’t have anything there.
She wasn’t very religious nor did she agree with following her own intuition, the age upon which this decision happened troubled her. But she would make her decisions with the help of whichever way her nape hairs would fall after it had rained. Like palm reading, she had noted down every possible way her hairs would rest after it had dried and would, with her own very sophisticated reasoning, attach meaning to each pattern. Her favourite time of year was the monsoon season. She always felt lost during dry season, so she would shower a lot. She knew it was not the same. She felt too in control when she showered.
She learnt the alchemy of soil from her mother, Amordad, who passed when she was 8. The closest she ever got to religion was when she would hear her mother hum to her plants before sunrise. As the sun rose her mum would hum a different tune that went like this; “hmm-hm-hm-m-‘m-hmm-hm-‘m.” It did not follow a natural melody. It sounded calculated and hummed with reason. She paused her hum whenever she would water her plants. It was on the eve of her 8th birthday when she noticed, from her bedroom window, that her mum was watering the pumpkins and in a break between two hums she examined the way the hairs on the pumpkin leaves fell. She thought it was her mum doing something special just for her birthday. When she asked the morning after, she was told – after being told off for being awake at such a time – that the hairs of a plant is the only thing that keeps in touch with the akaash. And as a woman who spends all her time with soil, she must ‘know what is happening with the skies and that is the only way for me.’
Amordad appreciated that her own mother was religious. Amordad was told she was ‘lucky’ to be named with the same type of calculation as her hum. Amordad was given to her as a name because, before she was born, her family lived a life of poverty and names have a way of coming to fruition. Amordad’s mother intended that she would provide them with fullness of heart, but she did not know that the whispers of the woman in labour are the ones that are most important. Her hidden intention was accepted and Amordad grew to provide fullness of the stomach. Her mother did not feel guilt for making her hidden intention known and for moving the stars to make her daughter a farmer.
Amordad decided to name her the same day her father passed away, three months before she was born. As a farmer she appreciated that all life came from akaash. On the day that her husband died she also appreciated that all life goes back to akaash. So she named her Hordad; “wholeness”. She made sure not to force the stars but only to guide them, so she only cried during her labour.
There was nothing neither whole nor godful about her.She liked to eat enough for two, when she changed her clothes she would strip completely and she did not want children. Her Uncle’s wife would tell Hordad to wear a vest and underwear when she walked in on her having a bath completely undressed. She said the devil enters the pores of a woman unabashed. When her mother passed, she had baths everyday for two hours at a time because her mum must know what’s happening with the skies and bathing was the closest to sky she was going to get. She would drink water excessively so her mother could know what’s happening inside her. Her Uncle and his wife thought she had lost her mind since her mother died. They did not listen much.