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June 2021

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On the day of the first monsoon shower, five-month-old Zébun smiled for the first time. The infant had shown no signs of emotion till that day. When the new-born was passed from one pair of adult hands to the next, it did not so much as let out a shriek or a cry. For the next few months, the baby bore no expressions. Zébun was an easy baby. She did not whine when hungry. Not a single tear was shed. No baby tantrums to seek attention of the elders. She lay in her cradle, motionless, with eyes that never seemed to blink. Through the long eyelashes that curled at the ends, her gaze penetrated the ceiling and the sky above, and seemed to be fixed somewhere in infinity. Only occasionally did her hands flutter, her legs kicked and the cradle rocked, as if warding off the perils of existence. The…