The little boy sat on his haunches, on the edge of the puddle. Tiny bugs with shining shells swirled in its muddy water. He tried to catch his reflection but could not.

The boy loved the hours after a spell of rain, for that was when the earth came alive—and everything on and under it too.

He listened to fat raindrops let go of the canopy and shatter on the taro leaves below and heard a rhythm to the thuds. He saw an army of ants rebuilding their home one grain at a time and a flock of sparrows complaining to one another as they arranged their feathers.

The little boy took a deep breath, filling his lungs with cool, sweet air still fragrant with petrichor. It has been a long time since he walked freely in that backyard.

Mud took the shape of his little feet as he scampered around, pausing only to squint at a bug or stalk a dragonfly. His laughter melted with the songs of birds roosting on the tall trees.

His energy was a tad too much for some though. He foiled the chameleon’s plan to make a meal out of the grasshopper, drove the nervous rat snake back to the crevice, and broke a vine creeping up a young tamarind tree.

But they all forgave him, they always did.

Finally, he sat down on the little marble grave covered partly by decaying leaves and leaned against the trunk of a massive mango tree, which cupped the grave with its thick roots.

The little boy’s smile faded as the sun started ducking behind the mountains. His gaze fell forlornly on the old, abandoned colonial bungalow, and wondered why ma and da left him all alone.

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