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Nine Forms of the Goddess (Excerpt)

Neema Avashia


I was not fair to my mom growing up, unable to recognize the impossible balancing act she accomplished every day as she advanced in her education and career, and still put a traditional Gujarati dinner, with its four separately-prepared components, on the table each night. I still cringe remembering the moment as a teenager when I yelled at my mom because a piece of clothing I needed hadn’t yet been ironed. As an adult, struggling to work, take care of my home, be present in my relationship, be a present and engaged aunt for my niece, I wish for my mom to bestow me with the supernatural powers she seems to possess.


Today is Dussehra--the 10th day of Navratri. After nine days of fasting, feasting, and dancing, Navratri in India ends with this 10th day off from work and school to celebrate the victory of Good over Evil. Effigies of demons get burnt in bonfires. People begin new jobs and new journeys.


This year in Boston the sky is grey and raining during Dussehra. Laura’s Irish-Italian father is here for a visit, and we will spend the day together carbo-loading: starting with breakfast at a diner, followed by a beer tasting where I politely endure bitter sips of brew, and ending with three courses of pasta for dinner. It is quite possibly the least Indian of Navratri experiences that my mothers could have wished for me. Still, I know they would be proud that I am doing what they taught me to do: be family in the way that people need you to be. And though I can’t stand in circle with them this Navratri, it is their faces, their voices, their presence that I feel when the first sounds of the garba come through my speakers on my drive home from work. It is them I seek to honor when I sing praises to Durga Mata, the Mother goddess.

(Read the whole story in The Hong Kong Review, Vol. I, No. 1)

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