Dragonfly Catchers
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Dragonfly Catchers

I tried pretending I wasn't afraid of insects one time, and I got caught.

Dragonfly Catchers

“Aysha bubu!” calls Samia, knocking on the door of the third-floor apartment. I go to open it for her.

“Amar shathe chhade jaba?” she asks me. Will you come to the roof with me?

I ask my mom and, after obtaining her approval, bring my sandals to the door where my younger cousin taps her foot impatiently, waiting for me. She already has the keys dangling from her fingers, so we run up to the fourth floor together, where she lives, but go instead to the next flight of stairs. There is a locked gate in front of the stairs blocking access to the roof, but she unlocks it, and we continue to the fifth floor. We unlock and unbolt the door and together step outside into the heat.

I go to sit on one of the many short pillars dotting the roof, but my cousin pulls on my arm. “Do you want me to show you all the plants we’ve grown?” she says, and even though I am not particularly interested in them, I can’t refuse.

I can’t remember most of the plants now, but there are many–aloe vera, lemongrass, mint, fruit trees, peppers, and so much more–lining the edge of the roof. They are drooping as the sun beats down on them–it is the middle of the day in the middle of June–so Samia fetches the hose and starts watering them. I help her out, and when we are done and have washed our hands, we sit back and look across the buildings.

I am not paying attention when Samia points at some dragonflies. “Foring dhorba?” she asks. Want to catch some dragonflies?

I don’t want to admit to her that I am scared to death of insects, so I slowly nod my head. It doesn’t take her long to notice my fear when she holds a dragonfly to my face and I jump back, and she laughs at me. I smile sheepishly and shrug. It’s not a huge secret anyway. Still, I force myself to try, and I do catch a couple. I let them go quickly, though–I shudder every time they writhe between my fingers and wipe my hands on my salwar as soon as they fly away. Dragonflies are beautiful, but not when they look like they’re having seizures as you hold them, by the wing, up to your face.

When we’ve had our fun with the insects, Samia suggests going to to the top of the roof. There’s a small raised section of the roof where the water tank lies, and we’re not really supposed to go there without an adult. But I agree, and we climb up the stairs to what we call the sixth floor. We stand side by side and lean over the railing. We can see just about all of Dhaka from here, the roads and bridges and rivers and markets. It is a crowded and busy view, but it is a strangely soothing one. At the moment, it seems like nothing is quite so beautiful as our silence.

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