she’d not seen yellow butterflies take over the strawberry patch or the beds of nasturtiums, dog flowers, and phlox in the garden. she hadn’t run through yellow mustard fields under wide open skies, and felt the drag of wind in her hair, the rub and scratch of mustard greens on her arms and legs. she had never seen buttercups growing wild on a hillside. no, she’d never seen or felt any of that.

she had lived all her life in a place where every square foot had to account for itself. no room for wildness or even an inch not measured and made gains of. where steel and granite, and opaque stares from impermeable sheets of treated glass created a palette in monochrome. a spectacular ode to grey. even the carefully planted gardens and avenues lined with trees never crossed the colour limit. subdued and tractable, blending in, serving a purpose.

in a corner of this measured world, a rebellion was taking place.

a streak of yellow, then a whirl, and a sudden burst of sunshine after eight in the evening. she flitted, she jumped, she almost flew. she twirled and broke into a moonwalk, she turned and did a quick rond de jambe, then she stuck her leg out and leapt toward me. a girl in a plain yellow dress that had arrived in a package, as online orders often do.

she had never seen a mob of yellow butterflies play with flowers. or run through mustard fields. or buried her face in a bunch of buttercups. could one of these have sneaked in a message in that grey little packet?

a girl dancing about in unrestrained joy, not a thought of anything else, arms lifting, legs drifting, a smile getting wider, eyes aglint. a burst of sudden yellow.

it’s just a dress worth a few dollars, i thought. and felt the blue of the sky.

indrani’s index