He said that he would wait for me, where has he vanished. Ayyayyo, I can’t see appa anywhere, the girl in the red paavadai yells, her voice snaking itself up, over the noise of the market. Kanna, whom are you waiting for, a large voice behind her rides over her ears, its roughness like the stroke of sandpaper. She runs, quickly at first, then slowly, then down to a walk. She must not lose him, she knows that. Her mother has warned her many times, there are bad men around, they will do frightening things to her. Maybe take her away somewhere and do things so unmentionable that her mother will never say what they are. But she knows they are real enough. There is the tasmac wine shop in the distance, at the end of the market, dirtier than the rest of it. Is her father there? He could be. She has seen him often enough, when her mother sends her to the chakki past the market. When she has seen him there in the past, she has walked past quickly, looking into the ice cream shop on the opposite end, covering up her embarrassment with the pretence of greed. It is not clear to her why she is embarrassed, but she is. And now he is missing. Her mother will scold her when she comes back. I asked you to take him to the doctor safely, didn’t I, you good-for-nothing girl, she will say, giving her a sharp one on her head. They say his liver is gone, now you’ve lent him to the wine shop again, you will make me a widow before my time, her mother will howl. Why am I so irresponsible, I just went in to that shop for a minute, the girl in the red paavadai sits down and begins to cry.