The cold nips at her exposed ankles. If only she could retract her feet in to her track bottoms the way her hands magically disappeared inside the sleeves of her worn sweater. Outside the sun shines, lulling her in to a false sense of summer. She has surrounded herself with bright, yellow things. Like talismans, she likes to think. Sunflowers. The glass bowl filled with Seville Oranges. Even her woefully inadequate flip flops. But she knows the mental solace they provide is fictional. When she was a child, she suddenly fell ill. She became thin, was depressed (though of course, that word was not used. It did not exist in her family's vocabulary)and was scared to go out. Her hair fell and her skin became yellow. The doctors prescribed vitamins and told her to eat walnuts. But nothing worked. Her mother finally took her to the Muslim at the corner of Mundakanniamman koil street. She remembers the wise bearded man and how he looked at her, studied her. His quiet cluck that summoned a woman shrouded in black from inside who placed a platter covered with a checkered cloth on the floor and disappeared. The man had slowly removed the cloth and studied her again before removing a large green chilly, which he circled around her head clockwise and anticlockwise, three times each way. He then snapped it in two and threw it in to a bowl of clear water . At his bidding she looked at the bowl and watched the water turn a bright yellow. The man then took out a small silver charm strung on a black thread and whispered at it before he tied it around her neck. She still remembers her fear, thinking her mother had married her off to the old man.
She was fine after that. Her hair no longer fell and she no longer feared the unknown black weight that had pressed down upon her. She wore the talisman till the black thread snapped of its own accord.
If only she had such a talisman now. Instead she tries to take her feet inside her track bottoms.