Wednesday, July 31, 2013

BLAME IT ON HER(A)



Tiresias revisited
Tiresias unbound
Tiresias interrogated
Tiresias absolved of all wrongdoing
Hera’s left holding the chopping block


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_pGgpdeK81tg/RcAy6V_rbMI/AAAAAAAAAAM/MRtsbHkQ60A/s320/tiresias.gif

Monday, July 29, 2013

ALICE MATTER, MAD AS A HATTER, SAID, ”ALL HAIL THE DARK QUEEN”


Barging down the river a mile
I once met a crocodile
Whose smile
I didn’t really care for

I asked my maid in waiting
If she’d do a little baiting
And have the ax man
Do away with that which I abhor

Now I beam a benign smile
It’s pure pleasure there’s no guile
Believe me
I love my shoes, my clutch, and the beautiful Nile

                                                                            
                                                                                          ~ Sonali

Illustration - Arab Republic of Egypt, the coin of fifty piastres, shows the queen Cleopatra

                                                           

Sunday, July 28, 2013

KISS MY TIARA




I am not
The titular head
Of a banana republic
I am the republic
                                                                                             ~ Sonali

MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO



Ever notice ?
Evil monkey see evil
Evil monkey do evil
Evil monkey see good
Evil monkey do evil

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

GOING SOMEWHERE ?



Rodent treadmill on warp speed
Fur flying
Feet slipping
Heart pounding meaninglessly

Is there anything sorrier
Than my little gerbil
On his little plastic train
            To nowhere?

         

                                                                                     ~ Sonali

gerbil_in_a_gerbil_wheel~AP-1LOZHZ-TH.jpgforums.defiance.com

SPLAT


Bug on the windshield of Life I am
Irregular blot
Still wet and gooey
Contemplating the landscape whizzing by
Taxing what little is left of my mind


                                                                                      ~ Sonali






Monday, July 22, 2013

WIDE AWAKE



                                                               All neurons firing
                                                               Unusual clarity of comprehension
                                                               All faculties working in unison
                                                               Full throttle living
                                                               Peace within
                                                               Peace without
                                                                                                                          


                                                                                                                                  ~ Sonali
maha mrityunjaya
Third eye | ShivShankar.www.shivshankar.in

Sunday, July 21, 2013

ODE TO A NEW SONG



Previously published in Calliope



I gave away love I didn’t have
Wiped away tears my eyes couldn’t shed
Sent missives with postage a few pennies short
Learned to play poker with just half a deck
Gave gifts of peace I didn’t own
And found the spark I had lost --

That all-disturbing photon of light
That melted my defenses
Against an unrelenting world
And found if you trust you are trusted
If you love you are loved
If you hate you are hated

I broke down the walls
And let the world fall in
Sprouted wings
And learned to sing
A new song
Come sing with me 

I unraveled the knots within
Through long sleepless nights
Laughed hard at jokes never told
Looked at life anew
And learned to smile again
Smile back at me

I slipped free of that last shackle
Winked back at the mysteries of life
Took one long draught of that elixir
That keeps the shadows at bay
And danced the night away
Come dance with me

                                                                               ~  Sonali
http://howdiyblog.com/2013/02/15/diy-projects-from-the-heart/




THE TWO ENDS OF A TELESCOPE

Previously published in The Writing Disorder
A little boy six or so
Playing soldier out in the backyard
Builds his fortress with young green branches
Arching down from an overgrown bush
And a cotton dhurrie he borrowed
From the kitchen floor
He marshalls his troops to victories
Around the carrot patch
The rosebushes
The plum trees
And settles down in the shade
With a cup of the bluest Gatorade
He grows up and goes to war
His talents as a leader among men
And his courage and forethought
Earn him a place among
The best of the best
He surveys his accomplishments
And wants just one more little thing
The simplicity of that existence
Where one carried no train
Behind him
No worry
Before him
Because the little child within the man lives
                                                                                                                          ~ Sonali
Telescope by ~vladstudio on deviantARTvladstudio.deviantart.com

Friday, July 19, 2013

THE DEAFENING SOUND OF SILENCE


Sorry I screamed so loud
I mean I'm glad you came to see me
I screamed because I thought I'd die if I didn't
Well I screamed without thinking really
I thought I'd die if I didn't see you
How many miles did you walk to see me
Must've been a million
And all you saw were my tears
I wish I could hear you
But I can't for this thick wall of glass between us
Longer than The Great Wall of China
I hope you can stay
But I'd understand if you must leave
I'll go away with no answers
It grows dark even as we speak
So you wouldn't know I'm smiling now
I am
That deafening sound of silence gives way to
A deepening sound
It is indigo
A benign vortex
Pure silky luminescent
God-like
Like the ripples on a placid lake impinged upon by a single pebble
The closest thing to a softly whispered secret
Did you hear that
A hum
Om
And now the door's closed I suppose
I hear nothing, again
But I don't feel helpless anymore
                                                                                                                   ~ Sonali


blue night moon moonlight min beautiful moons lake rocketship landscape HD Wallpaper
blue night moon moonlight min beautiful moons lake rocketship ...onlyhdwallpapers.com

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

FATHER LOVE

I was reading a book, many years ago, on personal transformation that asked the reader to write about each major life event describing our emotions. This was what I wrote for "Faith".

The landscape expands and rearranges itself
Alice has drunk the “Drink Me” and shrunk actually
She sees mountains of puffy clouds
Benign luminosity
She steps up the bottommost cloud
And she does not sink
Another step and it holds her well
Up, up, on a stack of clouds
“It’s a mountain," she says
"A stork’s bundle for a day
A silly dream”
She nears the top
And sees a face
A happy Rushmore-like face
She’s so surprised she slips
And falls into a pile of clouds
And looks to find
She’s held in the hollow of God’s hand


           


Saturday, July 13, 2013

May God Bless The Clouds Out Of Reach


Encircling the globe
Runs an unseen river of unshed tears
That empties itself into an unseen ocean
May there be peace for those who suffer

                                                                           ~  Sonali 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/3d/88/be/3d88be0cd2ce3162c0979f56f11035d2.jpg

Friday, July 12, 2013

LOTOPHAGI



Published earlier in The Writing Disorder

There’re some of us
Who cannot stand
On two feet
Like the homo erectus
Because we are the lotophagi

We cannot think
Nor act nor speak
Nor live according to our wishes
But we do the master’s bidding
Who feeds us the lotophagi

We’ve bartered our souls
A little at a time
And unwittingly given a little
Of the body and the mind each time
As a package deal of the lotophagi

We see pictures
Of street children
Sleeping on the footpaths
Of Mumbai or Kolkata or Hyderabad
And we’re looking at us the lotophagi

Numbed beyond human suffering
Our codes of conduct are not
Those that serve our best interests
Or those of our offspring
We’re broken as the lotophagi

It is time to reimagine the scenario
The lotus sutra proves it is not the lotus
That is evil
It is those who misuse it
And that are the lotophagi

Look that captor in the eye
Let the light of your soul shine
Through your brokenness
And say
I am no more enslaved

                                                                                           ~  Sonali

Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's Not Much Of A Life Without You




Daisies are the friendliest flowers
But I didn’t plant any this year
Instead I lavished time space manure
On gorgeous little sunflower stand-ins
Black-eyed susans
Beautiful in their own right

And here’s my puppy
All of six months
Being bad
She dug up the flower bed
Harried the cat
Chewed up my flip flops

I get her fancy new collar off
Put her in the sink
Wash the mud off
Deal with the wet dog stink
The mirror’s fogged up
The sink’s clogged up

But that mess has to wait
I HATE cleaning
I could’ve thrown the baby out
With the bath water you know
I say to my trusting pooch
She wags her tail

She’s cut through the crap
She knows I’m nothing without her
Words mean nothing to one
Who knows the language of the heart
She’s all fluffed and dried
Asleep on the carpet

I do what mamas do
Hold my breath
And clean the sink
I feel like a lot of negativity
Left with that dirty water
The mirror’s not foggy any more
DOK 01 RK0675 01 - Yellow Labrador Retriever Puppy And Calico Kitten Sitting In Flower Pot In Garden - Kimballstockwww.kimballstock.com
                                                                                                            ~ Sonali

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

The first poem from the Desert Trilogy

Beyond the gravestones of the secrets of the heart
Much beyond the unforgetting of lovers torn apart
Lies a mystery embalmed
 – a night to remember

Past the gossamer beautiful dreams come wrapped in
Beneath the water mermaids swim in
In the middle of a desert caressed by a big yellow moon
Lies a night to remember

Not quite a vision nor a figment of a feverish imagination
Tender and sweet, genuine, yet restrained
The beautiful cadence of a heartsong unfeigned
Is the night to remember

A whisper an answer an uncommon bonding
An easy dissolving into realms beyond understanding
A complete lack of awareness of all else
Except the night to remember

At this very moment
In this very place
In the shadows of this night
And in those of nights in bygone lifetimes
That left little trace
Looms a doomed doorway
Hidden from blameless eyes
That leads away
From the night to remember

The sands of time have run out
Tick tock
No overturning this law of Nature
And look
Morning has sprung
The door has been flung
Wide open

Harsh white bright injures the eye
Searing the memory of the hours gone by
Faltering steps and blinding light
Leave no room for a lovers’ goodbye

An inevitable journey has begun


                                                                       ~  Sonali

















Monday, July 8, 2013

DUS KAHANIYAN

buttonsandbirdcages.com

DUS KAHANIYAN, (for want of a better title), tells the story of 10 people.

   *********************~~~***********************

HUNKY DORY

HUNKY DORY went walking down the oft taken road of indecision
and met with a wall standing smack across it
must've been where Humpty Dumpty lost his marbles
or was pushed or whatever
when all the king's men couldn't put him together again
but Hunky Dory had no inkling of that story
so he shimmied up that wall singing a song
until came along a gypsy girl
a brown curl peeking beneath her bandana 
bells and whistles on her bodice
chewing a stick of licorice
she said,"hiya"
he said,"hi ya"
not wanting to look like an out-of-towner
"you look new around these parts
want me to show you around?"
tartly she asked
"sure" he said
he jumped off the wall
and followed her around
until it was dark
and she said,"you've been a bad boy
you've been a bad, bad boy
come let me teach you a lesson"
he felt a frisson
the graze of the cold tip of a whip
had touched his hip
and he felt alive awake
in a whole new dimension
no one save his mom 
had ever lavished so much attention on him
or cared to discipline him exactly so
he felt cared for, protected, loved, young
and safe in the knowledge he could
indefinitely postpone growing up
but like all things this grows too old 
too soon too bold too cold too quickly
sickly
he tried to get away


************************************~~~******************************************

 HUNKY DORIAN AND THE GRAY LADY

Hunky Dorian got off the plane
The honeymoon was over
He opened the door to the limousine 
To let his wife in and get in beside her

As they drove over Brooklyn Bridge
She devolved like something overlooked in the fridge
He changed too like he’d been dipped in an elixir
While she turned outwardly gray in demeanor

They were back in their brownstone four suitcases in all
The mementos from Barbados were tossed to the wall
They looked one another in the eye
She was bold he was shy

She grabbed him by the collar and kissed him
She said the flight had been too long she’d missed him
They turned the corner into the bedroom
She turned on the lights he turned off the gloom

He spilled some sand from his shoes onto the carpet
Their roles in their marriage had already been set
She was to be a picture on the wall
All eyes and ears mean and tall

A Medusa who froze everything with her gaze
A man, a boy, a brook, even the rose in a vase
He was to be the eternal boy
Sweet and abiding, naughty and coy

And so they lived on happily together
She went grayer each year like heather
He remained youthful forever
**************************************~~~*******************************************

MAXIM  DORKY


Maxim Dorky, oh so lithe and sporty
Greying at the temples, a little over forty
Always at a party looking hale and hearty
Seated beside his harpy who's at the top of his hierarchy
He's eyeing this young floozy
Who's had a little too much boozy
His wife is right beside him
Droopy eyelids red around the rim
Downcast lips downright grim
The lights are low the music dim
He walks up to the girl and fills her cup to the brim
He looks into her eyes and gives her his pseudonym
He looks a lot like a man who knows he's about to sin
He looks half apologetically at the harpy who gives him a reptilian grin
So here we are at the two ends of the room
A story playing out exactly as it has umpteen times before I presume
The wife looking on like she's been enbalmed and four weeks in a tomb
She knows this play by play and has blessed this all the way I assume
I'm intrigued in the meantime by her outlandish costume
It's Easter today not Halloween unless we're doomed
I'd have thought a wife would fret and fume
But nope, she's sipping her vodka and gathering more legroom
While he's oozing charm and slathering it all over the girl
The girl looks like she's feeling woozy as she gives her bangs a twirl
I'm watching Mrs Dorky across the room arranging paper napkins in whorls
Maxim stops being his usual "folded in three layers" self and like a proud new flag unfurls
He leans in, says something to the girl, who laughs too much too quickly
He looks across the room in the harpy's direction hopefully
She's given up, Mrs Dorky, it seems to me
She's wearing combat boots, a moleskin shirt, and dungarees
You're almost grateful she's got on no makeup at all
Because if she had put some foundation on it would have been her biggest pitfall
The scene across the room has altered in the interim
The girl has perhaps figured out Dorky isn't single, he's just being gamesome
She left through the front door dizzy and sozzled
Mrs Dorky shot after the girl while we looked on, puzzled
Dorky looked shifty, stoic, assured of victory, but a bit like a pyrotechnic display that had fizzled
His harpy returned, her head held high, and her nose looking even more chiseled
She waved a pale pink business card ahead of his nose for a whole minute before she gave it to him
She most likely had imagined he'd be thrilled but he looked like a less than delighted Maxim
He gave her a peck on the cheek and said,"Darlin', you shouldn't have."
No one knew how to remedy this situation, there seemed to be no band-aid for this nor salve
Harpy smiled, look Dorky in the eye and tousled his hair
She said,"You have no idea how much I care
About you. I know you can do nothing without me."
"Yes dear," said Dorky sheepishly
We are weirded out by the strange goings-on
The harpy is happy, Maxim's all forlorn
She's less of a mystery to most of us since she's always had the tongue of an adder
What really does this man want we wonder

***************************************~~~****************************************
 GEORGIE    PORGIE

Georgie Porgie and his witchy wifey live down the street from me
Wifey is fifteen years older than him and a whole lot manlier than he

Witchy wifey has a pedigree
Georgie has a college degree

Georgie's mommy lives across the street from me
She has a beau about the same age as me

Georgie's wifey has a lot of money
Georgie works for a downtown attorney

Now Georgie knows what he's doing you see
His Daddy went MIA when he was three

He modeled his life after his step Daddy's subsequently
So when Georgie goes out of town he's a-spending money on other cuties

When he's done with work there he's back to his homies
Where he hides beneath her skirt when the cuties come for their alimonies

Wifey screams, his mama screams, at the cuties, and Georgie is happy as can be
The cuties vamoose and Georgie takes wifey and kid to the park like a good lil' daddy


***************************************~~~****************************************

 THE  COUNT  AND  COUNTESS  VLADD

Vladd and his wife
Tease one another with a knife
In a corner a boy plays the fife

Darker than sin
This night begins
As does a marriage in an inn

The ghosts of the slaughtered
Thrilling at what's to come wander
Their curiosity making them bolder

When the slave's the master
There is no better disaster
Than to watch him turn into alabaster

The seed was cursed
The uninitiated knew first
But too late, the bubble's burst

When darkness to darkness calls
Adam falls
Taking Eve with him

ALLUSION :
"I will turn your face to alabaster,
Then you'll find your servant is your master" ... lyrics of "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by "Police"

THE COUNT AND COUNTESS VLADD


Vladd and his wife
Tease one another with a knife
In a corner a boy plays the fife

Darker than sin
This night begins
As does a marriage in an inn

The ghosts of the slaughtered
Thrilling at what's to come wander
Their curiosity making them bolder

When the slave's the master
There is no better disaster
Than to watch him turn into alabaster

The seed was cursed
The uninitiated knew first
But too late, the bubble's burst

When darkness to darkness calls
Adam falls
Taking Eve with him

ALLUSION :
"I will turn your face to alabaster,
Then you'll find your servant is your master" ... lyrics of "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by "Police"

Georgie Porgie


Georgie Porgie and his witchy wifey live down the street from me
Wifey is fifteen years older than him and a whole lot manlier than he

Witchy wifey has a pedigree
Georgie has a college degree

Georgie's mommy lives across the street from me
She has a beau about the same age as me

Georgie's wifey has a lot of money
Georgie works for a downtown attorney

Now Georgie knows what he's doing you see
His Daddy went MIA when he was three

He modeled his life after his step Daddy's subsequently
So when Georgie goes out of town he's a-spending money on other cuties

When he's done with work there he's back to his homies
Where he hides beneath her skirt when the cuties come for their alimonies

Wifey screams, his mama screams, at the cuties, and Georgie is happy as can be
The cuties vamoose and Georgie takes wifey and kid to the park like a good lil' daddy






Sunday, July 7, 2013

MAXIM DORKY



Maxim Dorky, oh so lithe and sporty
Greying at the temples, a little over forty
Always at a party looking hale and hearty
Seated beside his harpy who's at the top of his hierarchy
He's eyeing this young floozy
Who's had a little too much boozy
His wife is right beside him
Droopy eyelids red around the rim
Downcast lips downright grim
The lights are low the music dim
He walks up to the girl and fills her cup to the brim
He looks into her eyes and gives her his pseudonym
He looks a lot like a man who knows he's about to sin
He looks half apologetically at the harpy who gives him a reptilian grin
So here we are at the two ends of the room
A story playing out exactly as it has umpteen times before I presume
The wife looking on like she's been enbalmed and four weeks in a tomb
She knows this play by play and has blessed this all the way I assume
I'm intrigued in the meantime by her outlandish costume
It's Easter today not Halloween unless we're doomed
I'd have thought a wife would fret and fume
But nope, she's sipping her vodka and gathering more legroom
While he's oozing charm and slathering it all over the girl
The girl looks like she's feeling woozy as she gives her bangs a twirl
I'm watching Mrs Dorky across the room arranging paper napkins in whorls
Maxim stops being his usual "folded in three layers" self and like a proud new flag unfurls
He leans in, says something to the girl, who laughs too much too quickly
He looks across the room in the harpy's direction hopefully
She's given up, Mrs Dorky, it seems to me
She's wearing combat boots, a moleskin shirt, and dungarees
You're almost grateful she's got on no makeup at all
Because if she had put some foundation on it would have been her biggest pitfall
The scene across the room has altered in the interim
The girl has perhaps figured out Dorky isn't single, he's just being gamesome
She left through the front door dizzy and sozzled
Mrs Dorky shot after the girl while we looked on, puzzled
Dorky looked shifty, stoic, assured of victory, but a bit like a pyrotechnic display that had fizzled
His harpy returned, her head held high, and her nose looking even more chiseled
She waved a pale pink business card ahead of his nose for a whole minute before she gave it to him
She most likely had imagined he'd be thrilled but he looked like a less than delighted Maxim
He gave her a peck on the cheek and said,"Darlin', you shouldn't have."
No one knew how to remedy this situation, there seemed to be no band-aid for this nor salve
Harpy smiled, looked Dorky in the eye and tousled his hair
She said,"You have no idea how much I care
About you. I know you can do nothing without me."
"Yes dear," said Dorky sheepishly
We are weirded out by the strange goings-on
The harpy is happy, Maxim's all forlorn
She's less of a mystery to most of us since she's always had the tongue of an adder
What really does this man want we wonder
                                           
                                                                                  





Friday, July 5, 2013

SEE WITH YOUR EYES NOT JUST YOUR HEART

This was finalist at Glimmer Train. 

SEE WITH YOUR  EYES NOT JUST YOUR HEART
http://imgbuddy.com/traditional-indian-drawings-pencil.asp


          Z was out of tea bags, curry leaves, moong dal, and amla juice. A trip to the local Indo-Pak grocery store was necessary. Of course they sold dates from Algeria, Lipton’s, and Cadbury products from the U.K., frozen lamb from New Zealand, and such, that served the greater community, but the neon sign stating the store was “Indo-Pak” and the painted sign under it that proclaimed “We sell halal meat” were de rigueur.
          Z was in a hurry to get home, needing that first cup of light Lipton’s Darjeeling for the day. She hadn’t consumed any of the strong mamri with spices she had brewed that morning. Not her cup of tea. She wondered if that was because she was wishy-washy. She had had just her granola bar with a cup of hot water thus far so the dull ache of being without tea was starting to numb her brow. She got her supplies and was about to drive away. A hapless looking woman with two children in tow, a girl about five, and a wailing baby were in the parking lot, with a cart load of groceries. Z thought for a moment she had seen the woman before, only to realize she looked exactly like the girl on the cover of a National Geographic from some years ago that was in the news a lot. The baby was shrieking because his pacifier was on the ground. The five year old was trying to put the groceries in the car with not much luck. Not sure if they would have a common language, Z paused and decided helping out with a few bags of groceries did not require the assistance of a translator. As she walked toward them picking up a glass jar that had rolled out of a bag and thankfully wasn’t broken, she said hi. The lady was happy to have the help in her frazzled morning and spoke fluent English and Hindi. And Z had wondered if they could communicate minus a translator! The family had just moved from Michigan and bought a home forty houses down the street from Z’s.
          Meera was the lady’s name. She invited Z to come visit. So far they had met only their immediate neighbors, an elderly couple who were also new in town having moved here from Shropshire , England, empty nesters. Another family with five children that home schooled were the neighbors on the other side of the house. The home schoolers ranged in age from two to twelve so her children played with them sometimes. The lady from Shropshire was a portrait photographer whose work was in the mould of Anne Geddes'. Her husband worked somewhere in downtown. The mention of Shropshire brought a smile to both their faces. Bertie Wooster and his menagerie of odd uncles and awful aunts were the only other folks they had “known” who were also from Shropshire. It is unfair to cast people in molds they do not belong in but preconceived notions are a fact of life, so they did share a little “Are they anything like the Woosters?” moment.
          Meera began, “Oh no, not at all. They’re unique but not crazy. They are the nicest and some of the smartest people I’ve met in a while. You really ought to meet them. Mary is very feisty and very nice. She asked me to look at the pictures in her studio and I wondered if she worked for Vogue or something. James has an outward persona of a hard drinking rugby watching boor but he is really the nicest person around who is working too hard to look mean. He used to drive around with a large sticker at the back of his Jeep that said in letters you could read from a mile –
          WHY DO SCOTSMEN WEAR KILTS?
          BECAUSE SHEEP CAN HEAR A ZIPPER FROM 650 YARDS
He saw me staring at that a few times and peeled it off. Now he drives around with a slightly darker than the rest of the Jeep tan rectangle on the rear door. Mary had said to me that day, ”His bark’s worse than his bite. His heart’s in the right place. He is only just coming to terms with the fact his mother is Jewish. He’s worked for fifty years at creating an identity that is more British than the Queen. Then we got here. He met cousins on his mother’s side that are Schindler Jews, and blood’s thicker than water. They’ve welcomed us into their family like they’ve known us forever. They’re quite the richest people we’ve ever met, and the most accomplished, but that has not given them any false airs. The real James is a good kind man. I wish he had realized a very long time ago that you can be British and Jewish and Catholic and still be happy.”
          Over the next few years Z and Meera became good friends. A theme played out in Meera’s life that Z, in spite of being her best friend and neighbor, had not figured out in ten whole years. Only when Meera’s diagnosis was so grave, the prognosis so cataclysmic, that her parents were rushing over from their quiet lives in Hoshiarpur to say goodbye to their thirty six year old daughter and take the grandchildren back with them, that Z realized her friend was dying. The homeschooling family helped her children with homework. James and Mary drove them to activities, James calling it “Kindertransport”.
          Meera had been slowly dying right before her eyes and Z hadn’t seen that coming. After Ma had died Z was sure she understood dying much better than most people her age but had been very wrong, and what a time to pick to make a mistake like that. Z blamed herself for being so dumb but that was so futile. She got busy instead asking Meera what she would like her to do to make this transition easier. It is only those who have seen the inevitability of dying from the perspective of the powerless who ask such questions. But it made sense to Meera. Every day after the children had gone off to school Z was supposed to come over to the hospital and take notes. Meera could last about thirty minutes at a time away from the breathing tube so it was a herculean effort on her part. She gave Z a raw, experiential version of her life. She said at the end of thirteen days, “Z, watch over my babies. And you girl, don’t die with your music still in you. You and I are sisters not related by blood but by a common archetypal journey through life. It is too late for me. You better snap out of your zombie-ness before you are dead for real.”
          Watching Meera’s parents, her young children, her clueless and cold husband go through this time in their lives was horrific for Z. She had no idea that being around death is one thing when you are nineteen. But in your thirties it has a completely different effect on you. Her heart grieved inconsolably for the children. The parents had so much less grieving time in years she couldn’t think of their pain as equal to that of the children’s pain. It wouldn’t be until a year later when Z would have another baby and lose him to a very complicated surgery five weeks later that she would understand the pain of a surviving parent. She could hardly believe she was annoyed with her sons for being alive and healthy, and had needed a couple of weeks to stop herself from distancing herself from them. “Grieving is a sick, sick job. You live through hell and put your loved ones through hell. Is it any wonder people dull their pain with a variety of narcotics and accept society’s verdict on their choice of pain relief. If I hadn’t watched my own family coming apart at the seams because of vices I can imagine why such poisons find a foothold in so many lives.”
          Meera’s death left a vacuum in Z’s life too but what hurt her most, almost weirdly so, given all that had been lost in Meera’s dying, was the loss of a life that had the potential to do so much. All else was so traumatic Z couldn’t deal with thinking about the pain. But somewhere in her heart she had begun to forgive her own mother for dying, so the pain of leaving ones children behind began to eat away at her heart and soul over the next few years. She already knew what that look of a hunted animal had spoken through Meera’s eyes in the last three days of her life when the doctors had allowed her children to spend all the visiting hours with her. That was the look Ma had had in her eyes too the last few days of her life. Prior to that, Ma had been aloof. The pain of her condition and the knowledge she’d never even live to see Z graduate school, leave alone have her own family, had made her that way, Z reckoned. The doctors and nurses had also been crying.
          Meera had been a very good mother, a dutiful wife and daughter-in-law despite the constant belittling and suspicion she was subjected to every day of her life. She had played her role in community, and family as honorably as was possible, ever the first one to help out at school, care for the sick, and so on. This was the person the mother-in-law asked every day where she had been, looking her up and down with suspicion when she went out to the store or anyplace, even if she took the children with her. Her husband checked the mileage on her car every day, looked in her purse, read every letter, snooped in her journal, and withheld money for no reason at all. For reasons best known to her weirdo husband a single human hair could be found on every important document, safe, wallet, cell phone, keychain, left lying around the house. Once she had found a single hair of hers taped across the door to his closet. When they painted the house and redid the flooring in wood, he had said to her that evening as she sat on the bed, ”You are trash. I am throwing you out.” This was nothing unusual so Meera hadn’t reacted then, but on her deathbed it was funny to her. On the day after the wedding he had told her he hated sick people and had really been looking for a girl five foot nine and a size zero. And here she was sick and dying, a size zero, only it had not been possible for her to grow from five foot two to five foot nine in all the years of her ignoble marriage. Between the mandap and bidaai, he had whispered in her ear,” You are so ugly but I married you any way. Look at your feet. They’re abnormal.” The honeymoon had been more of the same. He said he wasn’t sure if this was what he really wanted. The day she had her first baby he had shown her a picture of a model perhaps a size minus two and told her all his life that was what he had really wanted. Her hair, very mousy earlier, had grown thick and lush through the pregnancy and every evening as he opened the door and walked in the house he never wanted to see the baby or said hello to her. He’d open the door with a flourish and ask in his high pitched voice sounding exactly like his mother, “You still haven’t cut your hair?” with mock incredulity. He harassed her thus until one day, a couple of years into this drama, while cooking, she took the kitchen shears and cut her long hair which was now grown down to her hips. He still wasn’t happy.
          A month later she found out she was pregnant again so she papered over the cracks in the marriage and looked forward to baby number two. He tried once, maybe twice, to make her take a fall getting off the car when she was eight months pregnant and laughed out loud when she asked him to be more careful but since she did not get hurt she decided to ignore the fact that he had tried to hurt her and their unborn baby. He’d call his mother every week to tell her he’d visit Ratlam in November knowing full well the baby was due in November. The mother-in-law had refused to come help with the baby stating it was getting too cold for her. So now Meera had no help with the house or the children. The mother-in-law was so mean it helped to have her gone even if it meant more work but now her husband was becoming a demon incarnate. Maybe the mother-in-law’s presence might have helped she imagined. Her husband kept in contact with that boss and his wife through the years and pointedly told Meera he had just spoken with them every time he called them. The day she figured it all out, she knew she was never really married. She had been hijacked by this man and his mother and she was just their slave girl. No wonder he hated his own children, for he made crude sexual remarks at them too. When they came home from school with trophies he was unusually sarcastic. He saw that as Meera’s and the children’s achievement and hated them even more. He’d point out in a high nasaly tone everything they were lacking in talent-wise, imagined or real, so that would override any happiness they had felt doing well at school. If Meera intervened things got uglier.
          Things started to go very wrong in the bedroom. Z did not ask exactly what and Meera did not elaborate. He threatened to put naked pictures of her and of the children on the internet. Right then Meera figured there must be cameras in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Z could not figure out what kind of man would do that to his own wife and children but she knew he was a very sick man.
One night, Meera she had overheard her mother-in-law say to her husband,” You need to get yourself a kerosene stove and a real wife, a nice hindu girl from Ratlam. She’ll bring dowry too. For a man who owns a hundred acres of land your father-in-law gave you nothing. And be very careful. This girl has mool nakshatra and other doshas in her horoscope. I’m lucky I’m not dead. Maybe it will affect you. You have grown old suddenly, lost your hair and are looking just like your father. Maybe it is affecting your health.”
          Meera, a graduate from a home science college in Delhi, a wizard in the kitchen, was shamed at every party in their home and outside being told in a loud voice that she couldn’t cook. He told her to keep her mouth shut because she spoke terrible English and he didn’t want people to know he had married a farmer’s daughter. Surely, her mother a sikh and her father a hindu must’ve only gotten married because her mother was pregnant with her. Meera had never heard such things in her life so this was a language she did not speak. She pretended to not understand. And Meera had shut down mentally so completely within a year or two of marriage that nothing bothered her, not his attempts to hurt her emotionally, nor physically. On her deathbed she said to Z,” I was captain of the Delhi University debate team and I could not respond to this man and his mother because I believed we were a team. I didn’t know a spouse could wish you dead. I didn’t know a mother could wish for her grandchildren to be orphaned. But this is the real world. Lies rule. Those of us who cannot fight against lies and corruption are not meant for this world. In memory of all those who have died as I am dying, you will tell my story.”
          Z remembered one year when instead of going to the celebrations at the Bengali Association she had accepted Meera’s invitation to a potluck dinner party on Boishakhi at another friend’s place. All her life she had imagined Boishakhi was exclusively a Bengali festival. Now she knew it wasn’t.
The crowd was very friendly, outgoing, and loved the good life. This was an energetic upbeat crowd. Z, staid and dull from years of shutting down emotionally, felt refreshed knowing such people actually existed. You could call this a perfect evening if only you could erase the memory of a single ugly incident. Every body sat down in the family room after dinner, about fifteen in all. The talk turned to the stock market. Strategies for buying and selling stocks in the upcoming week were being talked about. Meera’s husband sat down next to Maya’s husband and had a little Brokeback moment going there, that went into thirty minutes or so, eventually. Z, shocked beyond belief, did a quick visual survey of the faces in the room to see if anybody else had noticed. Not one face registered surprise. Maya was helping with the dishes so she wasn’t in the immediate area. Meera was. Z thought Meera had quietly imploded from grief and humiliation. About two thirds of the faces showed traces of disgust. The other third was amused. One of the guys was more than amused, he was mesmerized and kept interrupting them, his eyes shining. Z could not understand why no one tried to set things right. Maybe the oldest person in the room, or the host for the evening ought to have said something, anything, and stopped the drama in the first minute. Obviously the dynamics of these two marriages were no secret. Why does society allow creeps to get away with this kind of thing? Only Z hadn’t figured it out in all these years. Maybe people thought Meera was fine with this because she didn’t move a muscle, except to look like her life force and her tears had all evaporated. Of course, taking the cue from Meera, when they met the following weekend, Z glossed over that memory and pretended it had never happened.
          Meera had begun to withdraw from society at this time, Z recalled. She had tried to go to the PTA and the temple and the Gurdwara by herself for a few months but gave up on that too. She had said to Z her husband knew exactly what wedge to throw between her and her friends, so she stopped meeting them. If Z wasn’t a good neighbor they might never have met again since that Boishakhi day. Meera’s husband had a well choreographed routine. He’d flirt with Meera’s friend. The friend would be grossed out. Or he’d flirt with the friend’s husband or make demeaning, even sexual remarks about their children, thereby alienating them for ever. She was so infinitely ashamed of being tied to a pimp that in the next few years she had completely stopped meeting people if they weren’t her in-laws. She kept in touch with her family via phone and email until she realized every email was read and every phone call was recorded. He knew the content of conversations between her and the children during the day. She no longer sang in front of another living thing because she felt ugly about it having been called a ‘gane-waali’(derogatory phrase for singer-geisha) a few times at Lodi and at a ladies’ sangeet back in Ratlam so she sang in the bathroom only. He’d know which song she’d been singing. He made bitchy comments about everything she did from yoga to watching T.V. The whole house was bugged. As always stalking leads to nothing good and he became more belligerent. The police was called twice, once because he had tried to hurt her and the children. She had said to the children she would protect them with the last drop of her blood. He probably mulled over that, made a big show of attacking the younger child in the kitchen while she was cooking one day, so she put herself between then. Now he called the police saying she was attacking him with a knife, and came from a war faring tribe that trained its young to wield knives and swords, so she was a trained killer. He laughed and laughed and laughed while waiting for the police to respond to the 911 call. He showed the police photos of Meera’s family in their traditional garb, sword and all. Children’s services had to get involved. Meera died of shame.
          Over the next year after Meera had died Z watched Meera’s husband spiral out of control. His children were in India. His mother had gone back too saying she was too old to keep house in this cold country. She went back to Ratlam. A few friends of his moved in as roommates. Music played all night long. Three or more cars were parked in the driveway every night. Then he was incarcerated for IRS fraud. The house was auctioned off. And Z lost track of him.


THE  END

 Dear Reader, Z is a conglomerate of 5 different women. My in-laws are awesome, so please don't go looking for a complete parallel to my life in this story. It does not exist.