Gautam was blind and everything around him was either white tile glinting like teeth or white teeth set between wrinkled lips, colored like impatiens, telling him he was worthless and dirty and had never truly loved his wife, her daughter, had always been false, would always be a liar and the lowest of the earth. She cupped water in her wrinkled hand and dripped it lazily over her thick black hair and told him he was not good enough for her daughter. She said this to his face even though years earlier she had poured water into his hand and blessed them and declared to everyone that their children would be beautiful and healthy and live well until the years of their sunset.
He told her to be quiet or to be afraid and she told him:
“I don’t think I will.”
He couldn’t see anything as he pushed her neck against the back of the tub and hoped she would stop breathing. Instead, she screamed and blinded him further, everything turning white and gleaming. Acid coated the inside of his mouth, and he bent over the bathroom sink to vomit. He had held her life in the curve of his thumb and index finger. If he had pushed, he could have broken something. He had already felt her tendons push up into his hands. She was wiry. White and gleaming, and he heard Anjali behind him scream, too, and he let go to turn to face his daughter.
“Anjali,” he said. The word was salty on his lips. He hadn’t known that he’d been crying. The girl was gone in a flash. Deepti skittered out of the tub and into a towel, stumbling over the threshold to the bathroom. She grabbed the door frame for balance and flashed one last look at Gautam. The whites of her eyes were yellowed and bloodshot and looked like rotten fruit around her pupils. He fell back into the space between the toilet and the wall. His breath came in heaves. His breath came in heaves.