Nira and I are with Hemal on the day she dies. She is teaching us a clapping song game, a remembering game. She is winning.
We call Hemal by name, though that breaks respect law because she is my mother's younger sister. She says being called jal-amaa makes her feel old. She is sixteen, which is old; Nira and I are five.
My amaa opens the door screen and says, "Hemal, we must talk. Nira, go home; your amaa will worry."
Hemal's eyebrows pull together, scrunching up her caste marks, like maybe she ate all the butter or forgot to douse the cookfire. She gets up and ruffles my hair. "I'll be back soon, little ones."
And after that, come back here and read these "Nine Things About Oracles" poems (Shweta's is "the" in the following links), which is part of an interesting series inspired by a pendant so named. Here are some of the other contributions by lj folks--and then mine, below. ;)
Hah, couldn't get away from me without my posting a poem! —
Nine Things About Oracles
By now, you should have seen it coming; but
vision is only one sense, and
we lie to ourselves with so many--
the cat came back to tell you
every time, but you only listened
to spiders: weaving
a tapestry you'd looked at so many times
that you confused cause and effect
batting at the kitten's paws to
keep it from the yarn: tales
told in the telling, sheared
from dreams counted in the vapors
of fumes the old ones breathed
to talk to you (themselves)--
you see yourself and are surprised
(nine times) the yarn comes back
to where it started.