When Meena’s husband died, she was told that his soul would try very hard to hold onto its body, that it would linger and poke and push its way into the world of matter unless they took the appropriate steps, steps laid out thousands of years ago and followed ever since. Would a lingering soul be so bad? she wondered.
But the mourning mechanism pushed forward relentlessly, and Meena soon found herself surrounded by a downcast crowd, Sanskrit phrases intoning from the priest steadily and methodically in the background. The crematorium had been readied by a calm and kind funeral director, now familiar with Indian ceremonies, no longer puzzled by the required and assorted customs.
She found that her autonomic brain was able to answer questions and respond to fellow mourners appropriately, so she allowed her mind to remain in neutral, absorbing the cadences around her. The solicitous questions from her devastated mother, the sympathetic whispers from the crowd, the calm directives of the funeral director — all washed through her as she sat with strange equanimity, hands folded in her lap.
She’d been so angry with Vishal last week about his unwillingness to share housework, even to pick up his socks, but now of course she only thought about the open smile that charmed even the grouchy neighbors and the clever hands that fixed the erratic furnace in their ancient house.
DHEEPA R. MATURI is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Every Day Poems, Tweetspeak Poetry, A Tea Reader, Mothers Always Write, Here Comes Everyone, Flying Island, Branches, Hoosier Lit, Dear America: Reflections on Race, and The Indianapolis Review.
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