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Photo credit: HImanshu Singh Gurjar

“Girl, where are your shoes? You can’t work without them. Did your mother teach you nothing?” She elbows the other chubby one and now they both scan my feet. “Fine, you work today, but go buy some shoes for tomorrow.” Both roll their eyes, turn and march further down the station.

Ma doesn’t like to offer advice. She wants to me to learn, like how she had to. If anyone asks; say you are seventeen, that’s all she told me. I don’t think I look seventeen but she says the harder I work, the older I’ll look. I regret telling…


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Image created using Canva

Over the last few months, I’ve put together an ebook, as well as designed a cover for my Kindle book, using Canva. I had wondered about hiring a designer from platforms such as Etsy or People-Per-Hour, but this year hasn’t been financially stable, so I looked into alternatives based on my budget. I tried Photoshop, but it’s an investment because of the technical aspects, and as I’m not a professional designer, I like to rely on a tool with a bit more ease.

If you are not aware of Canva, it is a graphic design platform, founded in Australia. You…


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Image created on Canva

I own forty-one plants. No, that’s not correct — to say “own” makes me sound superior and materialistic. Who owns anything? “Take care of” sounds appropriate.

The house I live in is small. It has no grand hallway or spare space to create a focal point. Everything sits in place, like a well-organised toolbox. Nor do I crave anything more, neither do I feel the need to declutter. However, some would say forty plants require decluttering. But the things with plants, you see, is once you give them a home, they must be grown. Sometimes when I look at my…


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Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash

The King of Dwarka is sitting on the floor. Righteousness radiates from his lotus eyes. His skin, as dark as a lightning cloud, is covered with yellow, silk garments. His bare chest is adorned with a garland made from jasmine flowers, and a green gem (the Instrument of Peace) sparkles off the gold pendant on his necklace. The soles of his feet are etched with inexplicable symbols: a flag, a thunderbolt, an elephant goad, barleycorn, and a lotus. A peacock feather is nestled between the pleats of the saffron-coloured turban he wears on his head and the ends of his…


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Chamar: widespread caste in northern India whose hereditary occupation is tanning leather; the name is derived from the Sanskrit word charmakara (“skin worker”).

At first, I thought it was magic: the Earth suddenly crying. I thought I’d finally found something to make my father and I rich. A creature that cried like a human, one I could sell to the circus in the city. But it wasn’t. It was just a baby. I didn’t tell anyone. I left it there, crying and drowning in the dirt again. I was a few years older when I learned that many fathers here…


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Leonardo never made Lisa wear a hat, or maybe she refused. I should have refused. I’m not fond of them: hats; they are more suited to the intrepid.

My husband, Walter, he’s brought me more hats than flowers. I’m known as “Hat Lady” in our village — a title that infuriates me and amuses him.

“You have to wear it.” He tells me. “Paint me without it, just this one time?” “No.” “Why not.” “If I tell you, you might laugh.” “Walter, you know me, I don’t laugh at much.” “Hmm, that I do.” “So, amuse me.” “When I’m gone…


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Image credit: Christopher Brown

My country: India, has one of the world’s lowest divorce rates; 1%, to be exact. You’ll stumble across loving marriages, of course, but the foundation upon which most are built is painstakingly unsettling.

In the west, love is a thesis for exploration. It’s an experience waiting to be learned, examined, and dissected. Most humans don’t utter “I love you” until they find out what it means. In India, love is one-dimensional. Sure, the love between a human and their God is spiritual, deep, and unconditional. But the love between a human and another human is usually fast and careless.

Love…


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Neha peels open her eyes and strips back the duvet to sit up. She places a hand across her forehead to break the orange glint seeping in from the street lamp outside. She studies the pits on her skin: a pattern, left from the cardigan she’s slept in. It’s something for Neha to focus on. They’ve been happening a lot lately — each time the lines appear sharper than the last as if her skin is losing its fibre. As if she’s letting it.

It prompts her to get up.

She throws off the cardigan as she faces the mirror…


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In 1858, a spiritual ascetic arrived at the Indian town of Shirdi. He wore simple garments — body covered neck-to-ankle in an ivory-coloured Kafni. His head covered with the same fabric. He owned no possessions aside from a canvas bag, which held a beggar’s bowl. Still, his demeanour was mild, and he appeared content. Fast forward 60 years later, and this ordinary visitor became known to India as the miracle performing saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi.


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If she were to shed tears; they would reflect hunger. Still, she offers me a mud-ridden hand.

I take it. Under the dirt the skin feels delicate.

I watch her un-washed head rotate from one side to the other.

Her eyes examine the distance, then pose as signals. I feel the pull on my arm and she escorts me.

Her naked feet stride through the screaming traffic. I feel like the child.

Seven. Maybe. I think. No older.

After her deed, she re-claims her hand.

I’m left to watch her walk back to the filthy pit she calls Home.

preeti

I tell stories about life, about imperfect humans. Fiction and non-fiction.

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