It was... would be... another quiet day in the house.
The Dishes - the dish - from what was more properly described as "Lunch" was washed.
Mina stared at the loom. She really. Really. did not feel like sitting in front of it today. The radio had been all "farmers protests" for - what now, a week? They eleced their Hindu conservatives, and what. A. Supprise. that they didn't care for the little farmers.
It's not like she could even go to town and gawk - any crowd already shouting was bad, even if it wasn't about caste, it could easily become so.
She could walk. She could see if Jyoti needed anything.
She stared at the drawer where she had just put her spoon away.
They were perfectly useless things. She'd tried to butcher a chicken with them once, and it was obvious they were made for meat that had already been butchered below a certain size. And, of course, steak was out of the question around here.
Maybe she should go west. Just a vacation. Visit Sardari. Take a swing south to some of the solidly Muslim butcher... beef.
Mina had just eaten, but she couldn't help but drool over the thought.
Of course that didn't make these knives any less useless. She only kept them because they were a gift. Farthingsworth hadn't given many of those. Even if the rest of the set had been lost, worn down, and broke over the decades - the knives with no use remained.
It had been before Dhaka University had even been properly founded, hadn't it? She tried to remember. It wasn't Farthingsworth's children she had looked after, was it?
What had his first name even been?
Was it worth keeping a set of 8 knives when you couldn't even remember the full name of the person who had given them to you? She had other knives that were actually useful. Like, the cleaver on lamb. It had weight. It had balance. Freshly sharpened, It would go through bone. Certainly not 100 years old, but a good wedding present. And how many times had Uddyam fallen for the cut fingers trick since the had been gifted it?
She pulled the big knife out of her drawer, and slid out the cutting board stored beneath it - flourished the knife with a spin around her right pointer and slammed it down into the board - and her left hand.
Mina supposed it would be a bad thing if she didn't feel it. She had, in the past, heard of "miraculous" children jumping off roofs and dying when they hadn't realized how badly they had been injured. But honestly, she could only wonder if broken bones felt better. Any sensation of her fingers was replaced with a constant stinging, and the uncofortable pressure of blood building up, trying to get to places it couldn't reach.
Visually though, it looked like she's sliced through her hand. If she concentrated, her fingers could curl the slightest bit, but nothing else. Putting her weight on the knife, she could start to see the fraying of wood fibers. She slid the blade forward in its shallow groove, past her left pointer - and saw the thinnest strip of flesh stuff, connecting the finger to her hand.
She tried to keep it flat. Lifeless. But her veins would have none of that, and instantly the base of the finger was struggling to inflate, twitching, with the stinging sensations exploding with it. It took far to many moments to subside.
Which left her with three more fingers, deprived of blood for that much longer. They were looking a tad... blue. Right, there was only one proper way to address this problem, and that was to make it worse.
She tried pulling her hand out from under the knife instead, without lifting the blade - merely angling, funneling, to ease the fleshes' passing. It would have been nice to wrap, anchor, her arm around something close as she pulled - bare rafters wouldn't do for this one, as she was attempting to keep the knife flattened flesh for as thin as possible - the closest alternative the wide charpoy - which she didn't usually have to share with her husband - in the bedroom. It would have been a lot easier to find and loop an arm around if she had had both hands free.
So three long belts of flesh emerged from under the knife, as the rest of the arm was allowed to contract to normal proportions. The remnant of one fingertip popped through, and the rush to contract started - the sensation made far less by the meters blood had to cover as flesh "naturally" contracted to controllable proportions.
Mina had discovered the technique a few hundred years ago, it made the stinging feeling a lot more manageable.
And, time passed and hand restored to normal proportions, she still didn't want to work.
There had to be something she could do with these steak knives.
She couldn't even remember the last time she had tried to juggle - but she remembered - something. It could have been literal centuries. Yeah... Yeah, probably those days when she was on the street on her own, slowly going around to the old temples and relocating her caches of coins from the previous decades. One could hardly expect a street performer to stay in the same place too long, and a lot easier to explain a performer carrying a lot of money than some other lone passerby with no plans.
These knives... the balance was important; they were centered well enough. The length, less important; they really could have been longer, longer ones revolved slower, and you could justify a lot more handle to grip. The sharpness... well, that was worst case, a serrated blade was never a good idea, much less a sharp one. But after a few attempts, a few would-be nicks (if her skin choose to hold such things), she started remembering timing, Mina had managed to get three blades going.
A little higher - a little higher - get a fourth in - a little higher - and thunk. That's how you get knives in the rafters. she easily reached up and pulled it down, and concluded it was time to get out of the kitchen.
It wasn't a front-of-the-house activity. The worst case would be the usual mob of school kids coming by and getting... too curious. The Moms? As long as it wasn't Jyoti and her nervous disposition, everyone else already thought Mina was a little off, it would be fine.
Three. Put a bit more energy in, let the sequence slow down, kick another knife up up, grab itin the hand, fling.
Four. There were other sequences she had figured out - but not now. While the knives were in the air, you don't scheme, you hardly think. You feel the timing.
Five. Good. But... something was off. She knew the could get six up there, but she hesitated. Something wasn't moving right. In the shoulders.
Drat. Drat. Drat. She cycled blades out, one at a time, dropping them back to the ground. The blouse. She hadn't worn a blouse back then. Which even back then, British modesty had been making slow inroads to Indian fashion - but a street performer couldn't be expected to be overly modest. That, and it was so much easier to change your appearance, should the need suddenly arise, if you didn't have to worry about extra layers below a saree. Mina dropped her saree off her shoulder, unlatched her blouse, and thew it to the back stoop, before throwing the saree back over her shoulder, and picking up knives to try again.
Three. Ok, admittedly, she had gotten used to a blouse, in one form or another, over the past twoo hundred years. The rub of the saree was.... as supporting as ever, but somthing still to be remembered.
Four. Did it feel right? Did anything ever feel right? It was just practice. It all was practice. Keeping up appearances. Trying to fit into the role people though you should fit in, because the alternative was being a monster. To everyone, not just everyone who thought they were superior to you because their parents told them so. But they could worship a monster above them, and that was somthing she wasn't.
Five. No, there was still a discrepency. She closed her eyes. For long moments, Mina's nose shunk a bit. Her eyes drew apart. She looked... younger, in a dozen ways even she would not be able to put words to. She shank by a handbredth, saree sagging the slighest bit on her waist.
There was a decided sickly sounding SHINCK and her eyes popped open, a large unruly bang of hair floped in front of them. She jumped back, letting 4 other knives fall as they may.
Right. 200 years ago she wasn't letting her hair grow out, because there was no Uddyam around to say how much he liked it. Her head was weighed down more these days.
Gingerly, she reached to the top of her pretend scull, and eased the knife plunged into it free, trying not to cut any more of her hair as she did so.
That... that was enough juggling for today. Balls might be better for future practice.