Summer 1993 • Vol. XV No. 3 PoetryJuly 1, 1993 |

Mother’s Milk

At twilight, a time of day when the dead creep up to claim their own, they claimed her. Twenty inches tall, less than my arm's length, one month to my eleven years. It was pneumonia not stomachache, criminal misdiagnosis. That very night she was cremated, the youngest of four: one son, three daughters. Without ceremony in that terrible quiet of night. But not nameless: Sangita---the musical one. Hugging myself in a bundle, I sat for a long time, shivering. How cold the houses are in Delhi's winter. How cold the moonlight. Outside, the mango leaves curled into themselves too, and the frost prematurely shrivelled my sweetpeas. In the everydayness of morning we went about our ways: father and uncle to office, mother to the temple, we children to school. Careless laughter filled the playground, while somewhere in that rambling bungalow sat my aunt, mute and dry-eyed, breasts overflowing, lap empty. Did I even think of her, I wonder, all that day, or when, feet and satche

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