The Musician

First son, oldest child was not a title Suren wore with pride. Indeed, he bequeathed what duties he could to Rashmi with such frequency that Rashmi behaved as though she were the oldest of the siblings, stepping forward to accept instructions and lead the way, as if practicing for a lifetime of managing small children. But he could not hand over his gender. That he was stuck with, the maleness of it and, worse, the first-maleness, the oldest-maleness.

It came at him each morning like a patriotic flag unfurled and snapping into place in a stiff breeze, calling out to him in the guise of all the expectations that had been organized into his schedule: classical music and chess folded into a rich batter of mathematics, the tried and tested path to the airy adult life of an engineer.

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