The three boys jumped over the boarding school wall in the suede of night. They had scored 3 out of 20 marks and were horse-whipped 17 times. The teacher promised a similar punishment the next day too.

The river couldn’t have killed them. Its flow was narrow. Did the fall from the wall do it? Or something else that had failed them?

Their bodies showed similar bruises and stamps of lashes.

In my five-year-old daughter’s school, the teacher meets me to complain about her handwriting. ‘It is not cursive enough,’ she says, ‘The d’s bend forward, the e’s look like l’s, p’s like h’s, g’s like nines.’


She nods in disapproval.


the way pink orchids blossom

into periwinkles