Saturday, July 4, 2015

Loudly Celebrated

It is the 4th of July again, and again, it is cloudy, hot, and smokey. I do not look forward to this day. Yes, the day off is definitely welcome, but other than that, there are few things that redeem this holiday.

We finish groceries and chores early in the week to avoid leaving the house on this day. The beach is overly over-crowded, as are the few stores that are open. People descend on the beaches and parks armed with chairs and gigantic coolers with lots of beer. Things get really loud after that, and this is just late morning. By the time the 4th dawns, even, the air crackles with extra static and fumes; people have been fire cracking away for days. The little showers that are so much a part of this land and this season, do little but add steam and damp.

One of the extraordinary things about this part of the world, unlike India, is that festivals are all the business of individuals, not the entire community; these are controlled events, contained within designated areas and there is no joy or celebration that spills over to the streets. If one were to find oneself driving around town on festival days, there is little evidence of anything being celebrated.

In India, I remember pandals, exhibits at every street corner, music, people in festive garb, extra hawkers, extra beggars, colored lights and flags stringed all over streets, and no one would be confused about what victory, god, beginning or end is being celebrated. Fresh flowers and colored sand would be in great demand for days before the day, as people plan decorations for their businesses, streets, houses, temples,even public buildings in their neighborhood. There was a particular smell of festivals: the air smelled of marigolds, incense,and laddoos. Freshly cleaned and decorated houses stood invitingly open, the family in newly stitched clothes milling around with neighbors and visitors, sharing sweetmeats with all, acquaintances and strangers alike. Even if one did not share the ideals or the faith being celebrated, one didn't have a choice but to get swept in the celebrations. I loved it all except the firecrackers during Diwali.

Here, I do not have much family in town. So today is truly a day off. No music blares so I cannot work; no fragrances distract; indeed, this could be any Saturday, a sunny morning with rain later on silent streets and quiet houses.

This post may sound unpatriotic or snooty. However, as we move towards a more globalized entity, I wonder how many Independence Days one should celebrate, and what exactly we celebrate. These days celebrate our victories over each other and often, become the flint that spark riots in some parts of the world. I shudder and fear that instead of celebrating end of atrocities, these days open up scabs and force old wounds to bleed and weep anew. They remind us, most of all, of our differences, our separations.

For these reasons, I AM glad that the 4th of July is quieter here than the 15th of August is, in India. After all, freedom-day is a serious thought, a quiet contemplation about the price it demands, an examination of its various hues, a continuous re-adjustment of its definition, and it is a sad day that forces survivors to reflect on the heavy losses incurred.

I wish we had an anthem for the planet, a day that marks end of global atrocities, a song that arouses an upsurge of patriotic feeling for the land, the oceans, and the air above, without imaginary, artificial boundaries that apply only to human beings.

On such a day, perhaps, I will not mind the fire works.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Paradise

The longest day of the year is past, and in the wet afternoons, I smell the coming Fall. My house, it seems, spends the entire Summer preparing for the darkening year and spends the beginning of the year catching its breath. Of course, right now, it is the heat that has stilled us, the cats on the tiled floor and humans surrounded by fans, all of us waiting for the worst of the heat to pass.

This stillness descends every year and yet I never remember it as part of the break between quarters that I so look forward to. Invariably, I wonder where the break has flown, I wonder what kept me from accomplishing the list the end of Spring readies, the list that I review and memorize for weeks in preparation for the break. I do not remember that I spent the break supine on the sofa, defeated by the still, hot air. The very thought of movement, even to get coffee is too much to bear. I spend days without coffee (too hot!), a little vague, a little lost, subconsciously nursing a persistent headache. I wander around the house, waiting for the day to get bearable. This heat is problematic since I hate air conditioning and cannot stand it for very long.

Already, I see that a few precious days have already gone by and I cannot bring myself to revising my rubric, re-constructing my assignments, re-structuring my courses. The sun shining on the gently swaying leaves is so fascinating. The cats seem to understand, since all of them are staring at the same swaying branches that have me so mesmerized.

Perhaps the afternoon (10am-6pm) will have passed when I blink next.

We finish grocery shopping before 10am and do not venture out until after 6. The sun doesn't set until late 8pm, and our entire day has been pushed back, with a giant donut hole of an afternoon squatting in its center.

When the rains wet the earth and I remember Fall, it is not with anticipation of relief from the season; October heat is the worst here. It seems that nothing will stir until the holidays begin, until the Goddess descends and Navratri lights up the nights.

One might very well wonder why I stay here. The days are lethargic and insomnia stretches out the humid nights. Yet I am always extolling the virtues of living in what I call paradise to any who would listen.

Paradise indeed it is, the unbearable afternoons notwithstanding. The dawn and dusk skies are a sight to behold, drama in colors splashed around, covering everything with improbable hues and shadows. It is not unusual to imagine brilliant, clear waters and clean, cerulean skies when imagining paradise. This canvas is a few minutes' drive from my sofa. Of course, I would not recommend seeking out the beach front between 10am and 6pm. But I keep that image in my mind's eye while I stare at the sunlight skipping on the leaves.

There are farmers' markets, nurseries, tropical trails, gardens, and parks with plenty of hospitable shade to while the day, watching butterflies and herbs going about their routines. Sometimes, we go to the movies, the mall, ice cream parlors (I do not partake, of course), and then I keep a shawl because the air conditioning is always cranked up to its coolest in all public indoor places.

Compared to the debilitating cold that regularly grips Northern places, I find this still air much easier to tolerate. For someone who has lived all her immigrant life in Florida, I have shoveled too much snow. If I do not shovel another ounce, it'll  be enough. I hear of horror stories about burst water pipes, failing heaters, cold so biting that one feels it in one's organs and deeper still. And there is no relief from this cold either; no brilliant sunsets to compensate for the day's discomfort, no shining sunlight on dancing leaves, no fragrance of fresh earth with the rainfall.

The terrain here is simple and straight; if one can read a graph, one never needs be lost. The terrain in other places, I know, is complex. It rises and dips, uncaring of its effect on slipping tires and shoes. It demands an ability to balance so that one is constantly looking for that center of being. Often, for months, these rises and dips are hidden beneath inches of snow. Here, the earth centers the being and unless there is something wrong with the internal workings of the organism, no balancing is needed.

I know that the prognosis of this land being the way it is, is not good. I know that this land is being swallowed up and soon, there will be no land. But as long as this land stands, I will choose it; perhaps the oceans will be patient enough to wait for me to be done before they swallow my paradise.

 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tech-Faced

Facebook just pointed out the many advantages of reading literary fiction; of course, I had to share that on my wall; that is so me! Of late, when I have a few minutes between sets of ungraded papers, waiting for a call back from the pharmacy, or just trying to unwind after a whirlwind day, I find myself scouring Facebook.

Now there is nothing extraordinary or new about this. I would not exaggerate if I claimed that this behaviour is quite common for the 21st century homosapien. It is a sign of the times that I split the people I know into two main group, those on Facebook and those who resist. Since I belong most definitely to the former, I despair of ways of keeping in touch with the latter. Surely, I am not expected to do something primitive like actually making a voice call? My students would shudder at the very idea. After all, even if one were to dial the number (is that phrase obsolete?), what would one say? Every time I do make a voice call, I am aware of an underlying wish that the person I am calling would not pick up, that I could just leave a succinct message and hang up to end the awkward experience. I am also aware that, like the rest of my Gujarati family, I tend to speak louder when I talk on the phone, the logic involving a physics formula about the complex relationship between the volume of the voice and the distance it has to travel. The end of such a call, inevitably, is accompanied with a distinct awareness of the needlessly high tones that one has to own up to.

No. Let us connect on Facebook instead. Or perhaps text. Surely, you have downloaded WhatsApp on your smart phone? Why involve something as personal as, as strange as disembodied voices?

One of the TV channels I watch proclaims Vasudhaiva Kutumbekam (world is one family) as its tag line. I cannot think of a better descriptor for the globalization that I take for granted, an idea that my younger self could only sigh over while watching Star Trek. My child posts pictures from her phone onto my Facebook wall so that now, I know what the EU headquarters in Brussels look like; my cousin FaceTimes with us from Vadodara so that his toddler can show us his new toys; my Google+ holds our clan's photo albums; my Geni informs me when a birthday nears; I can even borrow books from my county library on my Kindle while waiting for my flight connection at Heathrow.

A few of my friends are disappointed at the direction the world seems to be taking; the figure of Darth Vader seems to personify this fear of losing our humanity to technology, very much like the Minotaur expressed the ancient Greek's fear of losing humanity to the beast within. This is a valid fear, of course. However, if being part machine helps us become more human, does it not make the machine more human than the other way around? Take pacemakers or dialysis machines, for example. Would we be willing to go back to a world without those? I remember typing up papers with carbon sheets ensconced in between, which copious gallons of whiteout could not salvage. If given a choice, I would never go back to those days! Many fictional re-creations of post apocalyptic stories explore what the world would be like without the present day's communication channels. My blood runs cold with fright when I read those.

I cannot imagine that devices that help us communicate in varied ways can be essentially malignant. Certainly, some people will misbehave and misuse these devices; however, do we let the fear of misbehaviour guide us? Is it even in our nature to do that? History is evidence that we have always looked for ways to make the world smaller; thanks to Facebook and smart phones, this world is at our fingertips, and it is up to us to expand it exponentially until it becomes real or to contract it to a thumbnail.

I am grateful that I live in the same age as these devices. Worlds I had thought were lost to me have been returned a thousand fold; I am thinking of ancient legends, the dance form I was trained in (Kathak), my favorite painting genre (Indian miniatures), Hindi songs and films from the 1960's, and garbas or Gujarati folk dance music so ancient that most lyrics are derived from oral history. One can enjoy the Gregorian Chant and Sanskrit shlokas with the same crystal clarity as though they were being spoken in one's presence. I can find ancient trade routes or recreate a festival day of an Indonesian wife without much trouble. I wouldn't be able to spark my students' interest in Greek Mythology or Folk Tales if I couldn't bring up Google Images of Echidna or Baba Yaga.

I could go on, of course. I do so love the times I inhabit, may the Luddite gods forgive me! I fail to imagine what the next half decade will bring, but I am very excited about it.

Now my patient reader must excuse me. I must go back to preparing a collection of my favorite garbas on my flash drive so that I can plug it into my car and listen to these ancient lyrics on my way to work. After that, I must find a kidney friendly recipe from websites recommended by my online support group, transfer money between accounts, and order a birthday gift from Amazon; I must flex my fingers and send them racing across the keyboard, and the world I manage. In between these chores, if you are on Facebook, I might wander in and say a quick Hey.



 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Body Language

My body has a language: it sings in numbers and I am grateful to say that I can hear its song.

But first things first: I have been amiss in posting. Things fell apart and the center could not hold.

This anarchy has also been of my body's making. The humors flowed sluggishly; red stitched itself through the eyes; the eyelids proved unable to stay lifted long enough to let the eyes see; the balloon feet staggered, unbalanced; the heart raced to keep up and then slowed down, tired. All I wanted to do was to sink within and let my body have its way. My kidneys have failed, causing panic to shoot through an organic system that had taken its balance and well-being for granted. Undefined anxieties exploded and my mild distaste of needles loomed into a major phobia.

However, today, I am glad to report that the storm has been contained. My kidney disease has brought me many gifts and this entry goes out in acknowledgement of these gifts.

When I was younger, people teased me that I was not of this "modern" world, that I operated from some golden, pre-lapsarian past because of a predilection of seeing the world through romanticized glasses. I have never agreed with this; I am born in exactly the absolute correct age and I never had any pink prisms to filter the world's realities. This age suits me and I owe it my very life. Thanks to this wondrous age, even though my major organs have failed, I am aware of a feeling of undeniable well-being. I can enjoy my job, sustain a conversation, and savor a demi-tasse of coffee. Of late, I have even found the wherewithal to use earrings when I go out for dinner with family and friends.
Yes, these outings exhaust me once they are over; yes, I have muscle cramps that go on for days; yes, I have forgotten what it is like to sleep through the night; yes, my social life is seriously compromised. Even so, all this is nothing when I remember my body's desperate attempt to reach me to help it. I also remember my total inability to help.

Then, this age, this millenium came to my body's rescue and taught me to understand its language. I started dialysis, a miraculous process that helps my confused body to maintain balance, to come to terms with its condition. Patient experts taught me how to listen and talk with the flesh I inhabit.

I have always known that my body has an intelligence all its own, an intelligence that I have no understanding of, that I have been unable to access. But now, I have learned to balance my diet (the strictest kind) with the medications I have to take; I have learned to understand the relationship between daily weight, blood pressure, and the kind of dialysis solution (or dialysate) I use that night. I await my blood results with alacrity because that is how  my body speaks now. Last month, I celebrated my independence from Epogen shots and blood infusions to maintain my red blood cell count; my body actually beat anemia! A couple of weeks ago, my nephrologist congratulated me on controlling my phosphorous after months of trying to achieve the correct balance between including enough protein in my diet while avoiding phosphorous. It took almost a year of trials and failures to achieve the correct potassium numbers.

Every morning, when I take my blood pressure, record my weight, and finish my treatment, I am grateful for the ability to do so. Every evening, when I again take my blood pressure, record my weight, and begin my treatment, I am grateful for having lived the day. Yes, I do wish my life were easier, but more often than that, I am glad, so, so glad that it is as easy as it is!

The Geeta insists on the importance of making friends with oneself. The truth of this issue has been brought to me. I understand now that I need a lot of people and a lot of things, but all pale in comparison to how much I need to get along with my body. I am humbled by the incredible adaptability of my body, its admirable insistence on being my best friend, its stubborn loyalty in its refusal to abandon me, its ever-youthful willingness to accommodate new ways of replacing parts of itself, and at the risk of intense narcissism, I am so, so proud of being allowed to inhabit this wonderful machine that celebrates the spirit of being human with every breath it draws for me, with me.

I have learned to love my body with a completely different sort of appreciation and for that alone, if for nothing else, I wish to live forever with this body. There can be no gift greater than an aware life lived in a body that won't quit.

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Flickering Lights: The Insolence of Office

Flickering Lights: The Insolence of Office: This past month and half has felt like an uphill Odyssey, during which every pebble that could tumble, tumbled, every thorn that could pier...

The Insolence of Office

This past month and half has felt like an uphill Odyssey, during which every pebble that could tumble, tumbled, every thorn that could pierce, did so, and every wind that could cut bone, howled wildly, brandishing fresh knives. These weeks have made me long for days when I was juggling only one, at the most two disasters at a time. Today, it feels like time has run out and I will need all the motivation I can muster to get up from where I sit.

Last Friday, I was shocked to hear myself sobbing and begging for a technician that could fix my washing machine. The problem was not just the washing machine, but a whole lot of emergencies suddenly blooming everywhere I stepped.

Of course, part of me wonders if I do not feel this way because of my sudden, severe anemia, which exhausts me. However, finally, there is promise for that at the end of tomorrow (the gods willing). Tonight, the lion's share of my grading is done, and my washer is finally functional after weeks of stubborn silence. So perhaps it is a combination of relief and exhaustion at having lived like a juggler for the past few weeks.

But no. There is yet a monster I fight, since I still hold my sword.

Right now, I have a battle with either a credit card who mistakenly filed a charge as fraudulent, or a merchant who has seriously mismanaged my booking for my upcoming international trip beginning in a few days; or perhaps I am fighting both. I cannot tell whom I fight or on what side. With complaisance that is a characteristic of all scriveners, I am repeatedly being told, "Yes, yes, we understand your frustration, but the computer, you understand?" and "Of course your position is appreciated but our policy cannot be compromised." And my favorite, "I completely understand your problem but it is obvious that you do not understand what I am saying, or you realize my problem!"

I wonder if I am losing my grasp on reality. Should not I receive an apology for someone having messed up? Should I not receive reassurance that all is handled and well? After all, the trip is not cheap and I have received no discounts for my booking, nor any advantages from the credit card. Yet, like with the immovable technicians and managers in charge of  my washing machine, I hear myself almost begging, asking for unspecified favors.

There is no report of my challenging or disputing a charge for years; yet there remains a dispute. This reminds me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings:" The man should not exist, yet there he is, and he is the problem of the people looking at him. So this dispute is my problem and the merchant's tone does not lack in accusations snapping just below the surface of their words. The credit card company is belligerent at best and suspicious at worst. I cannot believe I beg strangers I cannot even see to take money from me, right away! The nightmarish, Kafkaesque situation is not lost on me.

Tonight, I have needed the solace of this blank space to vent, and my sincere apology to my patient reader; I am usually not thus darkling, I like to think. However, be that as it may, tomorrow, I pick up my sword again, rise with the sun, and hopefully, when the sun sets, my trip becomes more real, more possible, more manageable.

For tonight, I shall put away my tea cup and get some rest. Perhaps a few cats might come and commiserate with me. If they do not, I humbly and completely understand about the insurmountable problems facing them and their scriveners.

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Driven

Yes, reader, I drive. I live in a world that gives me little options. I am not particularly fond of driving and resisted it until my child needed me to drive. I also drive a hybrid; it is my first truly new car, and I am fond of the car. However, unlike my child, I realize I cannot take care of my car on my own; I need help from what has turned to be the most unreliable cross section of my species: car mechanics. I have come to believe that when forced to deal with a car mechanic, one must operate from the position that one is going to be cheated, and one must concentrate only on damage control.

A couple of days ago, what began as a normal chore day turned into a nightmare, thanks to the mechanics I have patronized for the past few years. Actually, it is a dealership, since I am told that no one but a dealer knows how to handle a hybrid, and now, I wonder at the mythologizing of the dealers.

This dealership has middle managers who receive the car and behave as liaisons between the owner and mechanics. The one I saw on my last visit, R.V., is the one I am always "placed" with, although he makes me vaguely nervous. He fancies himself a smooth talker, his smile just a bit too wide, and his eyes always calculating and shifty. He is always eating something or has just finished eating it. He likes to talk about the Indian restaurants he takes his expanding family to, every week, thinking to strike a kinship with me, which contributes greatly to my nervousness, since I do not frequent Indian restaurants every week and I can feel no kinship with a man who is so obvious in his efforts to put me, woman customer, at my ease by keeping conversations within women's domain, like food.

On Friday, however, I made a mistake. R.V. had claimed something wrong with my brakes that would take a lot of money to fix and asked me if I had the deductible for my extended warranty if it gets fixed.

I nodded and agreed.

Yes. I realize I should have somehow channeled a distressed female from my acting repertoire and stared at him in dismay over wide, tear-filled eyes at the prospect of the deductible.

However, I agreed without much fuss and I regretted my agreement immediately, as I saw the cogs and wheels behind R. V.'s eyes suddenly come alive. I knew I'd pay for it.

Well, the service is not covered by the warranty and I told R. V. to just do the regular maintenance, which should cost me about $36. He said he'd have the car ready to go within the hour, perhaps a couple of minutes over. It was my chore day and I shrugged my agreement.

After over two hours, when I finally caught his eye, he called me to his desk. The mechanic, C or G, I never did catch his name properly, awaited me there with his singular giggle. In fact C or G's speech is hitched with this giggle. R. V. and C or G claimed that the car's 12 volt battery had died.

You could have knocked me over with a sneeze.

I had just replaced it last year. What had they done to have murdered the battery so soon? Car batteries do not die every year, especially not the ones that cost about $300! I had been told that I was set with my battery for a few years when I'd changed the battery last year. I'd had no trouble with the car battery at all, until the car was taken into the shop on Friday where C or G did horrible things to it and killed the battery.

I had no choices, of course. So I used up all I had saved the last couple of months, more than twice what the deductible would have been. Within less than 10minutes, the car was ready to go. This was suspicious behavior, indeed, since it would take at least 20 minutes to change the battery, n'est ce pas? Trying to smooth over my feathers, R. V. walked me over to the payment department, complimenting me on taking such good care of my car.

I was quite upset and to compound my foolish behavior, I flounced off the dealership, vowing never to return.

I belied myself as I was back before five minutes had gone by.

Before I reached the first traffic light, all the lights on my dashboard came on alarmingly. I reached the dealership and was scolded soundly by C or G that there were way too many things wrong with my car.

Another sneeze would have done me in.

This was the first I'd heard of many things going wrong with my car. After all, had I not brought it in regularly, spent thousands at this very same dealership to ensure that nothing much would go wrong with my car? Had not R. V. himself complimented me on just the very thing? Leaving me on the curb, C or G drove the car off again behind forbidden doors.

R. V. finished eating something and threw the wrapper as he sauntered over behind closed doors, no doubt to confer about the problem my car was, with C or G. When he returned from the shop, I got another scolding, disguised as an explanation about how my car was a computer and as such, very complicated.

"But I understand how computers work!" I protested to no avail, of course. This was R. V.'s territory and if I had no tips to offer about which Indian restaurant was the best, I should mostly hold my peace and agree with his greater wisdom.

The lights on the dashboard are silent now. But as I left the dealership, dire warnings about how short lived the car was, rang in my ears. R. V. and C or G offer me no warranties or guarantees on the work done. Horrible things could happen at any time, horrible things that could cost me everything and then, whom would I depend on? I'd have to return to R. V. and C or G because, really, in the wide, wild world, no one understood my car but they!

On Friday, I knew I was being cheated. I have analyzed, re-examined, and re-lived this experience over the weekend, an exercise that has rendered me unable to do much else. I can see only one pivot on which the encounter spun: my acknowledgement that I could meet the deductible for a hypothetical repair.

This has been an expensive lesson.

I should have paid more attention in physics class.
I should have learned to play the distressed female par excellence, a mask that would rival Nirupa Roy's Mother roles.
I should have stopped enjoying chess and just concentrated on mastering the strategy of war manipulation.

Perhaps then, I would not be sleepless, at 5 a.m., wondering from where I can conjure a reliable mechanic for my hybrid, or if I would be forced to go crawling back to R. V. and C or G, and how much dignity there was in eating that crow.











 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pinned Here

My patient reader knows of my room mates, the cats, who have, of long, provided an anchor, a steadying presence, even a definition of what constitutes the idea of home for me. I have considered myself extremely fortunate in having the felines around me. Our relationship, I would insist, goes beyond normal language, our lexicon is structured around analyzing moods rather than actual combination of syllables or sounds. We do communicate, sometimes more effectively than the way I communicate with my students, even.

With my room mates, I do not worry about how my words may be mis-heard, unheard, unremembered, sometimes even misunderstood, like I have to when I speak to my classes. Of course, in my household, like with every household, we are careful not to tread on toes (and paws), not to hurt feelings, to follow the rules of courtesy required for the wheels of routine to rumble on without too many pot holes and other disasters. These rules of adjustment are the same my child and I had figured out when we used to regularly live together, the unspoken acknowledgements, conceding, bowing and stepping, all part of the same dance.

I have felt that the cats and I, the WE who inhabit this space right now, have danced and stepped together enough to merit being considered a household. A lot of my friends point out that this "relationship" is one sided: I seem to depend more on the cats than they on me. The cats are quite capable of feeding themselves (and even me, if only I would agree to adjust my diet to include mice, roaches, snakes, and lizards). They do not much care if it is a bush that keeps them warm and dry from rain or if they are curled up on cat beds around my house. They seem to be quite capable of protecting themselves, even to the extent of keeping their own pet possum in my little backyard.

All this is true. In fact, I have often wondered if the cats notice if I am in the house (unless I am feeding them). It seems that they ignore me, mostly, and unlike dogs, they do not particularly respond to my need for hugs. A few of them do tolerate being held for a breath, and then leave on their terribly important errands and routines, without which, they seem sure, the sun would not rise or set.
I am sure that mine is just one of the many houses they reside in at different parts of their routines. It is not home for them the way it is for me, the way they are for me.

However, then there are days given to the rains, when the horizon well-nigh disappears, when even a breath seems wet; a day very much like yesterday, when I could not hear the television for all the booming and thundering and crashing waterfalls everywhere. All the cats found their way into the big room where I spend most of my waking hours. They chose spots on the floor, in a box, on cat beds, in sofa corners, even a couple of spots on cat furniture. By the time evening fell, I realized that I had fed them all faster than ever, since they were all in the same place and I didn't have to wait for stragglers to stop by. I was glad of that.

As the evening progressed, I also realized that I was, for lack of a better epithet, pinned to my preferred place in the big room. Like points on some compass, the cats had arranged themselves to keep an eye on each other and on me, even as they napped. If I got up to get a book or a drink, all feline heads shot up in alarm, to watch closely what transpired once I had abandoned my assigned space. If I failed to return to my assigned spot in the duration that followed feline reasoning, the youngest kitten would skitter around the house to escort back the truant. The oldest cat watched the kitten and the alpha cat watched the oldest cat. The other kitten remained on alert, in case reinforcements were necessary. The remaining two cats laid their heads down to maintain their napping mien.

The ease with which I fit into this dance argues that I am used to this routine from other rainy days. The way in which we form families, anchors, thin threads that bind us to this plane of existence, are as amazing as they are varied. The idea of mortality looms as my kidney disease advances and as I become more aware of the terrible battles for survival I see being waged around me.

I may not own much in way of wealth or wisdom, but here, in this navel of the world, I have validity. Here, I am pinned in my own place, with designated steps for a familiar dance, with responsibility to participate in a routine.

If unpinned, I would be missed. Here.


 
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