The first sounds of the morning are of tuk-tuk and taxi engines as they come to life, their honking horns alongside the footsteps of the city’s informal working class taking to the streets. And, even earlier than that, the song and chant of Hindu morning prayer, and the feral dogs that slink to the shadows to sleep, no longer dominant as the sun begins its climb from behind Agra, India’s low hills.
The first time I died, Ima tells me, the sun flared its great, fiery disc and swallowed the whole world in a moment. And everything that had been was then no more. The second time I died, it was at the hands of a grand, dark army, their bayonets through my stomach and heart. And when I fell their boots marched over my corpse as though a body that falls was never standing to begin with.
The morning. Baby and I arrive in Berlin just after eight. It’s raining. A cold mist cleaves the streets. We left early and our eyes are half-open from half-sleep on the train. We lost our tickets crossing Karstädt and had to search our bags, our pockets, the floor when the conductor asked us where they were. We finally found them at the bottom of the valise, tucked away for safe keeping.
It is a warm and humid night in summer. The sound of dogs barking on the street. The sound of crickets from the brush and cicadas in trees. Fireflies flash like tiny cameras through the grass along rows of dark cars parked along the curb.
Gogo was raised by her uncle, whose name was George Sale, after her mother died and her father left for Africa. Her father never returned from Africa, and whether he was alive or dead she never cared to find out.