“What does it remind you of?”

The voice was getting irritating. What did it remind her of? It was really impossible. How could this person here… how could it be here? It was a drink, but it reminded her of a smell. Long ago, in the bliss of an ignorant childhood. The crisp air, a warm blanket, the impending sense of doom, voices: loud. How could this person know? More importantly, how could she answer the question? There was so much to it, so many details that could not be left out, yet her head was spinning.

“Here, try this one.” This person whose gender she could not fathom, pushed another small glass with a greenish-red liquid inside.

“I’m not sure I –”

“Shh, take it. Here you go!” The glass was raised to her lips and poured down her throat. She was aware that her senses were leaving her. She thought she would faint any time, but she never did. She was awake, and conscious, with dulled senses.

“What does this feel like?” A funny question, if one thought about it. It tasted like nothing, not even water. How it felt was an entirely different question.

“It’s…” her voice came out breathy, as if she was in a fever. Yet she wasn’t. But how could she tell this person?! A million thoughts circled her mind as the room began spinning. The wooden walls merged with the wooden floor, and she couldn’t remember why or how she got there. Wooden rooms like these were not common where she was from.

“What is it? What does it make you feel?” This person was getting annoying. And persistent. What could she say? Her powers were failing her and nothing, except the truth, came to her mind.

A thousand memories flooded her mind. Some welcome, others not so much. Funny, how she couldn’t remember the main event in any, but remembered all the details. The curves of the inside of that toy car, the smell of baby shampoo, her grandfather smiling, his wrinkles showing grace and a life of rewarding hard work. The taste of the underside of a shoe, the smell of the river Indus, the fear she felt when she was eight. A camera flashing in the face of her new brother, turtles in the nullah by her house. Ice cream dripping across her school uniform, the back of a girl disappearing into the distance, a black bag and a pink one, a box of celebrations on the mantelpiece in her parents’ room, the storm after the earthquake in ’05, the paleness of the face of a woman in death’s jaws. Shifting chairs, smiling, not smiling, sighing, not sighing, she realised she was actually doing this. All these memories, nothing in common except her presence.

“Here, try this.” Again. Her head was splitting. She wished she could somehow faint. The room was getting darker, but she was still there. With this person.

She remembered she had never fainted her entire life.

“What does it make you remember?”

How she wished she could forget.