“How many rupees?”

“How many rupees?”

“How many rupees?” I keep saying. “How many rupees?” But I can’t ask “How many rupees for a friendship?” Or “How many rupees for a new and startling way of thinking?” Or “How many rupees for this pink-orange flower sunset or how many rupees for this deep purple sky?” Could I even think “How many rupees for this scuttling lizard?” Or “How many rupees for this cold bucket of water splashed over me in the heat?” Or “How many rupees for Indian head nods and ‘sudays’?” Or “How many rupees for the thick smell of evening jasmine?” No, I could not ask “How many rupees for the way I have learned to move slowly?” Or “How many rupees for learning to eat with my hands?” Or “How many rupees for holding so tightly and loosely to the things that we finally realise we cannot grasp?” Because I can’t ask “How many rupees for the scar from the heat on my face, for the way that the time always changes, for the way I’ve been changed by this place.”
No, there is no thin note of Ghandi, and there is no foreigner price, that could could ever come close to approximate or be pukka enough to suffice.



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