Did she just miraculously learn English? Is that what happens to people at the last flicker of sanity—total understanding? No, it wasn’t English. Or Nepali either. It was the other language she knew but didn’t think useful here—Hindi. The speaker was a taxi driver. He had pulled up behind her, stopped the car and was now hanging out of the window, concerned. Krishna doesn’t remember what he looked like. She does remember thinking, without a shadow of doubt, that he was a god. She told him so.
“No, no, ma’am,” said the driver. “I am a man. Do you know where you live?”
“Woodside” came to her. It wasn’t much, but it was enough. “Woodside,” she said, “Woodside. Woodside. Woodside.”
The cabbie knew what she meant—the Nepalese neighborhood. It was easy to find. Every other house had a flag in front of it. He would have taken her directly to Anu’s home, but as soon as she saw some familiar landmarks—a Chinese fruit vendor and a Sports Authority sign—she asked the driver to stop the car and let her out. Then she walked the remaining few blocks home.
Anu’s friend Aarati, manning the home front, heard someone open the door. A second later, she was frantically mashing buttons on her cell phone. It was noon on Sunday, 53 hours since Krishna’s first wrong turn. Anu, Shyam, and Aarati’s mother were methodically combing a local park one more time, on the astrologer’s advice. When Aarati’s call came, they ran to Shyam’s Nissan and sped home. Anu cried in the park, and she cried in the car, and she cried when she saw her mother for the first time in almost three days. Then she cried for a few hours more.
When she woke up the next day in her own bed, Krishna told the family what she had seen. She told them about the city of the dead, the green deer, the ghosts in tracksuits.
Krishna soon confided in her daughter that she’d like to go back to Nepal, and left for Pokhara six weeks later—well before her visa ran out. Against all odds, she had developed a mild but persistent claustrophobia. She spent most of her remaining New York nights sleepless, and would often slip outside in the dark. She’d drape a blanket over the top step of the porch and sit there, looking at the night sky and a Buddhist flag flapping on the lawn pole, her head thrumming with the maddening knowledge of the enormity that hid just beyond the corner.