Selvi stands at the funeral pyre,
staring at her dead lover’s body,
one arm stretched out, fingers hovering,
stopped by the transparent shield of propriety.
Sita’s chest no longer rises or falls.
Now she sleeps breathless, as Selvi does.
Anand, Sita’s aggressively bearded son,
hovers around Selvi as if afraid that
the android will defile his mother
in death as she embarrassed her
in life, but Selvi does not notice him.
Not until he produces a silver box
and taps her on the shoulder,
demanding attention, demanding
that she leave with the silicon
removed from the base of Sita’s skull –
a yoga chip he no doubt thinks that
Selvi installed herself, but he is wrong.
Sita had the chip implanted years before
she met Selvi. The yoga chip is
a remnant of a five month fad –
bored Bangalore techies tracking
their bad Bhekasans and their terrible
Surya Namaskars, recording missed asans
and misaligned breathing, while
a million million nano-bots
attempted to correct them, gently,
without the slightest hope of success.
Sita was one of those that left
the chip in, a decades long companion.
And now, Selvi will use the chip herself,
breathing in data that was breathed out
into the chip, allowing the nano-bots
to minutely adjust her movements,
even slowly nudge and align organs.
Sita’s voice is gone, and the chip
contains no memories, no sensory data.
Selvi does not long for these.
Instead she waits for the day,
years and years from now, when
the chip has adjusted her body
close enough to her long dead lover’s.
A day when, as she bends over in a Balasan,
there comes a moment, sudden and inexplicable,
where she draws her first breath.
Rohinton Daruwala lives and works in Pune, India. He writes code for a living, and speculative fiction and poetry in his spare time. He tweets as @wordbandar and blogs at https://wordbandar.wordpress.com/. His work has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, Liminality and Through the Gate.