here are a few word pictures from the diwali holy days…
the black goat with curled horns and 3 teats, lounging on the steps of a temple painted watermelon. she chews her cud as a pile of trash burns nearby and a man with a sugarcane press squeezes juice for passersby.
the boy who wears sandals on his hands and pvc pipe on his shins as he drags himself through the street on all fours, his legs warped and useless, his shirt red and torn.
the bus, colourless and monstrous, made of metal with nothing to soften it, from whose window one of my students leans, waving, crying ‘didi! didi!’ as it takes her to her family, her smile lighting up her beautiful face.
the toddler across the street, eyes blackened, with string for an anklet, crying as he pees into the gutter and his mother stands behind him in a sari the colour of grass and blood.
eleven girls, sitting in circle with me, hands on their chests, feeling the vibration of their own voices as they hum a chord into a concrete room and feel it build and wrap them up. their colours are bright despite the lack of light, their dupattas wrapped tightly around their chests to allow for dancing, and when asmeena breaks the chord by giggling they all dissolve into peals of laughter; beautiful, youthful laughter.
the cow who sticks her head in the office door, looking for who knows what, her rump filthy, her udder full.
a woman wrapped in cotton, with a huge basket of bananas balanced on her head, and her son at her side. his left foot faces backwards, giving him a sad, twisted gait. but when he stands next to his mother on the overpass to the train station, he is tall and proud.
the table and stall of goods and wares for sale for diwali ~ so many sweets, piled up in pyramids of white and orange, with wasps and flies filling the glass display cases and the wallah slowly sipping chai and smiling. next to him a potter sells little terra cotta diyas for filling with mustard oil and cotton wick and lighting.
and the tall pale girl from california, her hair in a permanent bun, her nose sunburnt, her clothes filthy, walking down the main road in forbesganj, the street full of rickshaws, cows, and buses, the sun setting behind her in an orange haze. her toes are black with grime, her shirt wet with sweat, but her smile, though tired, is genuine and happy.
happy diwali, dear ones, and blessèd samhain and all soul’s day.
live like the lotus, at home in the muddy water.