When we visited Lourdes




We visited Lourdes (France),

like all devout Catholics,

to ask for favors.


Our girls were two and one.

The younger one had a milk allergy,

and drank protein milk,

which resulted in poop

of the foulest odor.


We arrived late for the only mass

In English.

We entered the crowded church,

with two strollers, two toddlers

and myriad backpacks and bags.

The faithful were determined

not to let us through.

We were as determined to

make our way,

into their midst.

We settled on the floor

amidst glowering looks

which we ignored.

Then Natasha decided to unload.

The dreadful smell reached the rafters

and settled on the believers.

We couldn’t pretend it wasn’t us,

not after the sounds Natasha made.

When we stood up to leave,

the crowd parted like the Red Sea.

We were out in the fraction

of the time we went in.




When I was expecting

my first child,

I worried through the nine months.

I imagined every bad scenario

After her birth, I counted her fingers and toes,

and listened to her breathing during the night.


Three months later, I was pregnant again.

I didn’t have time or cause to worry.

My first child was perfect.

Natasha was born with

Downs Syndrome.

My world collapsed.

My life will never be the same.

I’d never be happy.

What had I done wrong,

to deserve this?

The first few months,

I am ashamed to say,

I was numb with self-pity


Natasha was a sunny, happy baby,

only crying when she had to.

Her eyes lit up when she recognized me,

her mouth opened in toothless smiles.

I couldn’t resist, I fell in love.


Natasha has grown into a lovely

young woman,

independent, compassionate

and bright.

People are drawn to her

and automatically smile.

Her strength is visual memory.

She reminds me which side

the gas tanks are in the cars.

She picks my purse when

I absentmindedly leave it.

She anticipates our needs.

When we cough, she runs for water.

The beds are made

every morning,

and our clothes folded.

She’s a gift, a special blessing.

We thank God every day,

that He chose us

to be her parents.

The Walk



I am not a great walker,

I park as close to destinations as possible.

So when I heard about the

39-mile Marathon Walk

I laughed.

But I reconsidered.

It was the Avon Walk for Breast cancer –worthy cause,

and I was a researcher at a cancer center.

I was pre-diabetic and my doctor would be pleased.

The walk was two days,

26 miles in the first day

13 on second.

There was also a half-marathon

(sounds familiar?)

But I decided, in for a penny

in for a pound.

The only BIG fly-in-the ointment?

Each participant had to put in

$1800 to walk!


I first inveigled a friend to join me,

And against her better judgement,

she did.

Then I charted a plan.

We visited organized clinics.

For walk, feet, shoes and hydration.

Then a plan to train.

We started with 2 miles the first week,

and increased by two more every weeks.

We learnt to stretch from YouTube.

And splurged on the best walking shoes,

which we never regretted.

We trained in our new shoes

to break them in.

Our walk in DC was in May.

So we started training in February.

It was cold, still snowing

and brutal, but we persevered.

We walked on the road.

The park trails were filled with women

with staring eyes,

and men who made our blood

run cold.

In between, we sent begging letters

to family, friends and acquaintances,

no one was spared.

As the training miles increased,

the weather improved

the winter inhabitants in the park

were replaced by serious joggers,

dog walkers and rude bicyclists.

But we enjoyed the walks.

in two months we could easily cover

18 miles.

But money was our constant worry.

Thankfully cancer survivors and families

donated generously.

Some gave to get rid of us.

The parks were full of bright green buds

and saplings and walking became

a real pleasure.

Two weeks before the walk,

we did the last walk of 24 miles,

and rested.

We had trained so well

for our first marathon!

The actual two-day walk

was a breeze.

The comradery, enthusiasm and

fever-pitch excitement,

at the starting point was astonishing.

Every two miles was a toilet, water and snack break.

Whatever else was needed, the women had.

We couldn’t help congratulating ourselves,

when many stronger women and even men,

couldn’t complete the walk.

We did not have a single injury

or after effects.

(We did a total of seven marathons)

My daughter leaves for college




Most parents send their children to college

And survive the parting.

Why was it so difficult for me?

So wrenching?

She had a protective life,

and I pushed her to leave,

to experience life on her own.

But I cried so hard,

even she asked bewildered,

college was only forty minutes away.

Was it because there were just the four of us here,

in the USA?

Just my husband and two girls?

We have a tight bond, it is true,

But other families do too.

Was it because my younger daughter

is a Downs syndrome,

and what normalcy we experienced

would disappear?

After much self-analyzing,

I think it is this:

We will never be a family of four


I sensed when she left,

She would never come back

and live in our house again.

And I was right.

She went to grad school,

married, and moved to another state.

And I am so proud of her!

She has children, and we love them


Yet I miss her.

When she comes home,

it’s precious – we are eight now.

And when she leaves,

I miss her all over again.

Driver’s license



‘You have to drive in the USA!’

The mantra I heard,

when I arrived,

terrified me.

It was wintertime,

and two feet of snow in Rochester, NY.

My husband taught me to drive,

a manual transmission.

“That’s real driving,” he insisted.

We fought furiously.

Finally I walked home

a mile in the dark.

And called the driving school

the next day.

I failed once,

and hid in my house,

with curtains drawn.

Then I passed, but was still afraid

of the manual car we owned.

Once on an icy slope

with our two and three year olds

strapped behind,

trying not to slip and hit the car behind,

I shot out into traffic across two lanes.

Our guardian angels were employed

And there were no cars on the road.

I narrated the miracle with graphic details,

to my husband.

The next day he exchanged the manual

for an automatic.

Today I have driven many cars,

even a RV.

And yes, I did need to drive

in the USA.




When I was a teenager,

my widowed mother and I

were best friends.

She was my confidante,

(it shocked my friends)

and I was hers.

Some made me uncomfortable,

but I would listen,

and I grew up fast.

She prayed for a good husband for me

Yet when I did, a crack appeared.

I confided in my husband now.

The crack widened into a rift

and turned into a crevice.

She and I tried to repair

the relationship and failed.

My mother grew sick,

I was terrified of regrets

And tried hard to change.

But each time

ugly, mean, unforgivable

thoughts occurred.

Yet I tried and thought I succeeded.

The second of her passing,

a lifetime of anger towards her

was forgotten.

What remains are my actions.

I wanted no regrets,

but I do.

It is not what my mother and I

were to each other,

it is what we were not.

The Sunday Movies



Nothing prepared me for college.

I was a city girl

who’d never left home.

College was in a rural setting,

eight hundred miles,

and three states away.

The highpoint of our lives

were the weekly English movies,

where we could meet

young officers from the army base.

In their presence,

our walks had an extra sway,

and hair was tossed around often.


On such a Sunday,

My two best friends and I

were swaying and tossing,

in our best clinging sarees,

when a cow approached

at a run

straight at us.

Without a second thought,

one best friend and I ran and

reached a ditch.

With vulgarly hiked-up sarees,

like synchronized gazelles,

we sailed across to safety.

When we looked around,

our other best friend,

was still running in front of the cow,

screaming ‘save me’

like a B-grade heroine.

We couldn’t control our amusement,

while a gleeful officer pulled her away.

The cow kept running.

It wasn’t chasing us after all.

It was just in a hurry.

Later, I had just one best friend.

And the Sunday movies were

indefinitely postponed.

What of the child?




My colleague happily announced

her pregnancy.

Her doctor advised a genetic test

for high probability,

of chromosomal aberration.

She proudly told us,

she didn’t need one.

She was ready.

Everyone applauded.

She was brave, she was virtuous.

Not one had a handicapped child.

She drank it all in,

yes she was all of that,

and more.

And I asked,

what of the child?

A lifetime of disability,

of frustration, of sorrow, of heartbreak.

Striving to be like their siblings,

their peers,

and falling short.

Of never being independent,

told what to do, where to go.

To never drive, go to a prom,

to be a wife,

and a mother.


Slowly the siblings leave,

and then permanently the parents.

The child turns old, lonely in a group home,

and dies among strangers.


I know, I have seen firsthand.

We have a Downs Syndrome child.

and dread her future,

when we are gone.

Four Brown Dots



I was in the USA,

Four awe-struck months,

when I realized, people camped.

They left everything behind,

and took off into the wilderness.

And I was hooked.

My husband was horrified.

Why? We have a five and six-year-old!

The relatives in India asked,

why? Only homeless people camp

for necessity, not for fun!

The children didn’t care,

all could sleep in one bed!


We test-camped in the Adirondacks

for seven rainy days, without proper equipment.

The rain drops on the camper,

and mold on the canvas,

drove us home.


Undeterred, we got equipped.

That summer, we camped,

Across the country,

for four weeks.

We drove through Deadwood, SD,

with a thousand bikers,

and couldn’t believe the sight.

The incongruity didn’t strike.

Us four brown dots

in a sea of white.

Everyone treated us well

and thought our kids cute.

To this day,

a memorable trip.




As a child, I played with dolls,

An unconscious yearning,

a training.

When I grew older

I looked after my younger siblings,

honing my protective skills,

and waiting.

I loved my freedom,

my individuality,

my body.

Yet I was ready to surrender

all three,

to the children I wanted.

I surrendered.

I was fulfilled.

I loved my role,

to feed, protect and


Today, they are grown.

I still feed them,

protect them,

and nourish them

With my love.

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