My son swims silently up to me in deep green water strung with copper weed which gets tangled in my hair so that for hours later I will be picking bits from my scalp along with granulated sugar grains of white sand.
He grips me about my waist and surfaces, laughing at my spluttering at the unexpectedness of it.
When I try to do the same though – when I try to take him by shark-like suprise – he turns to face me and smiles through the glass of his mask.
How did you know I was here, I ask?
Your bracelets, Ma, he explains, ”I can hear them jangling under the water”.
I wear nine thin silver bangles on my right arm and two bronze ones. The latter are snake bracelets. Hat gave them to me. To protect me, she explained, given my penchant for treading on same.
Ah yes. I say.
When my son was small he said the sound of my rattling bracelets, as I tiptoed (somewhat uselessly given the jangling) around the house at night was reassuring. It meant, he said, that Mum was close by. Now he says the noise serves as a warning and gives him time to collapse the game he’s playing on his laptop and replace it with an English essay which he squints at earnestly.
I had not considered my whereabouts was always so easily traced, even under the pillowing weight of cool jade and cobalt blue water.
I ask my husband, ‘does the sound of my bangles bother you at night?’ I ought, perhaps, given we have been married for twenty years to have asked sooner, ‘are you aware of them?’.
‘I was once’, he said, ‘not anymore though’. Unless I am not there. Like now. For then he cannot hear them. Sometimes silence is very loud.
On my right hand I wear a heavy silver and aquamarine ring. It was my grandmother’s. She was given it in India by somebody whom she had befriended, been kind to.
I wonder if that’s why I have chosen silver to pot as new jam?
I’m in England to do a course to learn how to work with it.
I am quite hopeless with my hands. Rolling pastry defeats me; I avoid it except at Christmas time and then I scowl crossly at mince pie making, and the dough sweats anxiously at my frustrated and impatient touch. I am hoping silver will be more compliant, forgiving.
I hope my fondness of it, my familiarity with it, will make the learning less difficult. I am plunging deep and far from my comfort zone. Amongst people I have never met. And a long way from home.
It’ll be fun, says Hat who looks tall and composed. Taller. More composed than I remember. And I smile.
She’s usually right. And she is wearing, I notice, a new silver bracelet of her own.