My grandparents lived in Tezpur, a town in Assam, in a beautiful bungalow with many rooms. Their garden was always filled with the most colourful butterflies. When I was little, I would catch the small white ones, close them in a jam jar, watch them flutter about, and then open the lid and let them fly away. They were my only friends on those long, slow summer days.
One afternoon, Ma's sharp call for lunch broke up my game. I left the jam jar on the courtyard steps, and ran inside for my meal. I forgot about the jar. I forgot about the little white butterfly still fluttering inside. When I came back, my butterfly wasn't fluttering any more. It was as still as the afternoon.
I remember sitting on the stairs cradling the glass jar for a long, long time. And I remember, for the first time, feeling the heavy weight of responsibility about an irreversible sadness.
Empty jam jars still make me sad.