by Gargi Mehra
Mother, believing me lonely, sends me a husband.
I toy with him, dress him up in shades that sing to his caramel skin tone, in hues that counter his beard and seal the mole that rests upon his chin. I run a comb through his hair, and when that looks too neat, I ruffle it with my fingers and contrive a parting to the left.
Sometimes he doesn’t want to play with me, and lies there limp and lifeless while I serenade him.
I leave him for a year, wandering thousands of miles away and disappearing into the hills. When I trudge back to the concrete forest I call home, he lies waiting for me, his lips curled in a smile I cannot fathom. This time, he plays with me, and I drift into the land of volcanoes and rivers.
Mother, believing us lonely, sends us a child.
The chubby tot coos at us from her crib, fixing round gray eyes upon our proud black ones. We visit the shore, and her father strolls along the waves that border the seas waters. He lets go her hand and becomes one with the sea, the place from where his dreams call out to him.
The tot morphs into an angelic lass, wearing eyelashes that curl into her lids. When wisdom settles upon her shoulders, she heads for the sky. The mountains that her mother scaled and the waters her father swallowed hold no allure for her.
I stand upon the edge of time, squinting up at the blackness, scouring the heavens for that rust-hued orb she calls home. Her father’s rosary hangs from my fingers, and I begin counting, each bead an orb of its own, an orb holding life of its own.
Mother, knowing I’m spent, sends for me.
Gargi Mehra works as a project manager in the IT arm of an international bank. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines online and in print, including The Forge Literary Magazine, The Temz Review, The Writer, and others. She lives in Pune, India, with her husband and two children. She blogs at www.gargimehra.com.