She wonders how careful she has to be. Three years in some foreign land isn’t a long time. But some habits change. The body becomes more vulnerable to dust. Though, in her memory, pollen in India never really disturbed her. But more than matters of immunity, she has these sudden panic attacks. What if her friends catch a tiny glint of an foreign accent. Ten years back, if you had an American accent, people assumed you were rich enough to travel, and that you caught an accent on a transit flight via New York. Now, they think you work in a call centre.
At home, her parents have left for work. Kantha, the wrinkled maid asks her what she wants for breakfast. For three days, everyone thought she’d be homesick for idlis and dosais. So that’s what she ate. But her tongue’s yearnings have changed. She prefers muesli. She tells Kantha she wants muesli. Kantha wonders why Pushpavalli wants mooku-shaliMooku-shali (Tamil): Snot/ Phelgm .
She explains that it’s just that crumbling thing in the box to be added with milk. Kantha, brimming with love for the girl who has come back after three years, adds boiling hot milk. Pushpavalli stares at the soggy mess. Unable to explain that it’s cold milk she wanted, she attempts forcing the hot soggy concoction down her throat. Suddenly, mooku-shali is the right word for it.