FROM "BLOOD, SWEAT, TURMERIC"
My very first period came to me like a stranger on a train. My parents and I were taking an overnight sleeper from Delhi to Bombay to visit my paternal grandmother. Because of a feud between her and my mother, Dadi and I had never met, but the stories I’d heard had already caused me to fear her more than anyone else in the world. Perhaps it was the dread of seeing her that sent my organs into overdrive, but sometime around the break of dawn I felt the urge to pee, and even though using a toilet on an Indian train is an exercise in an extreme form of Buddhist tolerance, I had my mother rush me there. I lifted my shirt, and from the folds of my ochre salwar, a blossoming field of red stared back.
FROM "AN OPEN LETTER TO MY THIRTY-PLUS-YEAR-OLD OVARIES"
And now, in my thirties, an email reminder would be super nice, so I am completely prepared for your product releases. Timing is super important, as you gals well know. Otherwise, the boys come too early, or too late, and your product, the thing that you gals worked so hard on, just gets stood up, and that’s such a shame! You know what it’s like being stood up. You’ve experienced it for what, a decade now? So please help me help you!
FROM "WE ALL HAVE COVID UNTIL NONE OF US HAVE COVID"
India’s COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that people’s communal faith is the miracle holding together India’s health care scaffolding. The schoolroom village clinics and the one-room urban clinics resemble a housing project that continuously runs out of funding and forever looks like a bamboo skeleton. We, the common people of India, put our faith into its unfinished floors, hope that world-class facilities would one day materialize out of thin air. But faith has a bad habit of running out. While we believed in Dr. Singh’s vials, we weren’t blind to the fact that if something really bad happened, his tonics wouldn’t save us. His one-room dispensary didn't have the same resources as the multi-story hospitals where my uncles performed open-heart surgeries. We lived on a prayer that nothing worse than what Dr. Singh could cure happened to us.
Bombay was a bitch. Bombay was an aggressive ex. The traffic moved so slow. It wasn’t her fault. She swayed, scrunched, collapsed, twisted, bent to make way for every fucker in every vehicle while still holding a bag, a funny knife (hidden in her blouse), her sari pleats, and a gesture to stop. This is the way I was born. Not born, no, but grew into. Feel pity or disgust or whatever it is you need to feel and cough up a rupee.