The escape of little bird

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‘Are you awake?’

I’m dreaming of Mamma. She is standing at the stove with her back to me. Her weight is on one foot, bare heels grubby with red dust, the ties of her apron dangling loose at her sides. The kitchen is golden with sunshine – golden floor, golden walls, golden Mamma. I smell cumin and coriander and the knife-sharp scent of lemons. My mouth begins to water. Mamma’s hair is falling from her scarf, a tail as brown as Pappa’s leaf tobacco.

Mamma turns from the pot. She’s speaking but her voice is muffled, as if she has a lump of bread dough in her mouth. I see her chin, her cheek, the tip of her blunt nose …

‘I said, are you awake?’

Pappa nudges my side. He’s leaning over me, the stubble on his cheeks making his skin look grey. His hair used to be brown, I think.

‘Come, little bird,’…

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