I Shall Paint My Nails Red by Carole Satyamurti (1939-2019)
because a bit of colour is a public service.
because I am proud of my hands.
because it will remind me I’m a woman.
because I will look like a survivor.
because I can admire them in traffic jams.
because my daughter will say ugh.
because my lover will be surprised.
because it is quicker than dyeing my hair.
because it is a ten-minute moratorium.
because it is reversible.
A brother and sister are here in the shop and they are arguing over Dr Who; they are disputing the title. The brother, who is the youngest, says: It’s Dr Stupid Who!
But his sister wants this book, there is an object on the front colour, it is red and she presses one eye to the cover, enchanted with this ruby object. Their father tells them that red is the last colour you see and they both stand still. One of them asks: Do you mean when you die?
The father answers: No, I mean when you look at something. Red is the last colour you see. The children stand still again. They look around hard. They look at everything and test the colour red. But they are not sure.
The brother says: I can’t see anything if red is last or first and his father said: Ah! Well, don’t worry.
The boy says: What else is there that we might see or not?
They are all standing at the counter now with their books, including Dr Stupid Who. The father says: it is up to you, what you see or do not see. Then he says that he has lost his book, a copy of Dune by Frank Herbert and the children find it on the table in front of the biographies and they think this is very funny.