REKKAI - WINGS
Poetry / Story Writing Contest
கதை / கவிதைப் போட்டி
In English and Tamil
Asha Krishna - United Kingdom
The voices had dominated her life ever since the post first arrived that day.
It was dinnertime when she decided to make her announcement. The neglected dosai on the hob was turning darker and stiffer, just like the stony voices around her.
“Crossing the seas?”
“An unmarried woman?”
“What will our relatives say?
They cited many reasons why she couldn’t go but she was determined to, for one reason alone. The envelope tucked away in the table drawer contained wings to a sparkling future.
1960s America was swarming with voices about race and equality. Her student self revelled in this ocean of revolutionary thoughts. But when the ideological tide brought in a strong undercurrent of romance, the pull was irresistible. Always swimming against the tide, she went with the flow for once.
It was years before she visited Chennai to see her parents, with two daughters and no husband. The snarky voices were circling the house already. “Divorced, Well no surprise there!”. When their taxi arrived at the gate, her mother was outside the house, finishing her kolam, her father on the reclining chair nearby.
The girls jumped out and little Kamala, more articulate of the two, ran in shouting “Thatha! Paati!” smudging the carefully arranged pattern. With their little feet and innocent voices, the girls slid into their grandparents’ hearts, smoothing over the prickly past.
She returned to the Berkeley, buoyant. Filled with purpose, she poured the same unconditional love into her daughters’ lives, fashioning them from the moulds of independent thinking and a deep sense of justice embedded in her.
But the voices reared their head again in the form of cancerous cells devouring her insides. She wanted to go back home, to her country, an act of final defiance. Instead, her ashes travelled to the Indian waters, leaving behind a miniscule desire spreading its roots.
That vision finally blossomed into a reality when her firstborn was showered with the chants, “First Woman of colour,” “Madam Vice President”.
Resurrected from anonymity, she watched her legacy take centrestage, triumphing over the voices, once and for all.