Anandi Mishra is a Delhi-based writer and communications professional who has worked as a reporter for the Times of India and the Hindu. Her writing has been published by or is forthcoming in the Chicago Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Al Jazeera, Electric Literature, Popula, and elsewhere.
This past February, I hired a cab for a pandemic-fatigued trip with a friend to the Himalayan hills in Himachal Pradesh, down the Old Manali road. It was a drowsy afternoon, the summer heat landing thick on the windows. My friend and I drifted in and out of sleep as our driver wound along circuitous roads. Listening to old Hindi songs, I started counting the Semal trees on the roadside, perched on the hills. Also called silk cotton trees, they blossom at the end of winter: leafless trees holding vibrant clutches of big red flowers.