The eldest sister grabbed the short broom from its shadowed corner and went to her chosen spot just outside the kitchen. With the front door kept open all day to keep the home aerated and inviting, dust and sand coated every surface. It was a constant grittiness the family no longer felt under their dry, callused feet and worn hands.

She wrapped the trailing end of her sari around herself and tucked it into her waist. She sniffled, bent at her waist, and began sweeping her spot. She cleaned until a small, circular area of the floor felt smooth and foreign. She temporarily freed her sari to dab at the sweat on her neck and forehead before tucking it again. The sweat came back as the middle sister handed her a pail of water and a cloth.

The eldest squatted and dipped the cloth into the pail. She twisted the cloth to rid it of the excess water, the droplets rapidly raining back into the pail until they slowed to a drip. She cleaned her spot with a circular motion, returning to the cloth to the pail and moistening it every now and then.

Outside, the eldest sister’s daughter was playing with her cousin. The middle sister’s daughter. The sounds of their playing were shrill and happy. In a few years, hopefully, the unbroken, high pitched shouts of a boy would join them.

The eldest glanced at the youngest sister sitting on a cushioned wicker chair. Her head lolled with midday drowsiness, both her hands atop her egg-shaped belly. With the right angle and the right clothes, it was hard to tell that she was pregnant. But right now, from the side and through the gap in her sari, it was easy to see the youngest sister’s stomach. The shape of it gave the eldest sister a feeling on what the baby’s sex would be. It wouldn’t hurt to pray anyway.

The mother of three, and grandmother of two, arrived with two pots. The eldest checked the calendar to make sure they had the right auspicious day of the month, then nodded to her mother. First, hot steaming rice was spooned onto the freshly clean floor. From the other pot, hot sambar was poured.

The eldest gestured that there was enough food on the floor and sat down as her mother left. She held her hands together in silent prayer. She mostly prayed for the baby’s health.

She mixed the sambar and rice together with her right hand while listening to her daughter and niece playing. An apparent argument between the two made her smile. Then, heart and mind set on her youngest sister and the baby, the eldest sister began eating off the floor.