December 19, 2012

Ajay Vishwanathan

Somewhere Among the Clouds
Ali sits on a small stool pulled up close to the window, staring at the sky. In his hand he holds the toy car that I gave him this morning for his fifth birthday. He turns around and sees me at the door.

"I notice many more today, Ammi," he says, and points upwards. I walk to him and place my hand on his back. I feel the scars running from the nape of his neck to his shoulder blades.

"Look there," says Ali.

The sky is cloudy, a dull canvas.

"Am I right?" he asks me.

I nod, but know that what he is seeing are merely high-flying birds. What he is looking for is too high, barely visible from the ground. Their presence is felt only when they spit fire, sending balls of blaze and smoke to earth.

Ali likes to sit next to the window and look for the objects that changed his life. I've told him that if he keeps an eye on them, they will not cause him any more harm. I have found myself lying to him often, just like I lied to him about how his father died. I didn't tell him that those aerial bodies don't see well and often miss their real targets.

He will find out. And will one day become what his father had always feared. But I will not stop him.

"They are not doing anything, Ammi," he says. “Is it because I am looking at them? Are they scared of me?"

I say yes.

He smiles.

I bend down and kiss his left eye, then the void where his right eye used to be.


Ajay Vishwanathan has been nominated multiple times for Pushcart and Best of The Net Anthology, with work published in over hundred literary journals, including SmokeLong Quarterly, The Baltimore Review, The Minnesota Review, elimae, and The Potomac.

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