August in Mulund
Misery is a word I only know
through the milk peddler’s arrival with
warm plastic pouches of milk and the paper notes
that rustle softly in his near-empty apron pockets.
The cheap plastic chair bows
under his weight as the aroma of burnt chai
fills the air and mustard seeds sizzle in oil.
When I see Baa standing at the stove,
her right hand stirring with a stainless steel spatula
and her left resting on the small of her back,
an apology loiters at the edge of my tongue,
hovering like the menacing rain cloud above,
but my teeth are the dam that keeps the torrents
from rushing out.
I finger the edge of the table.
The cheap marble-patterned paper
has peeled off, leaving only old wood behind.
One wheel is lost, and it leans
ever so slightly to the right. I roam to the window seat,
where the monsoon’s tantrum has left its mark.
I know that summer has run off with the morning crows,
leaving me alone, here, in Mulund.
I see my grandmother, wailing atop her inflatable mattress
and reaching for the black telephone resting on a stool,
her arm the dogwood branch hanging over algae-
covered pond, dripping in toasted skin and lilac bruises.
She telephones her son; the landline rings but her throat,
full of unsung abandonment and longing,
is a closed corridor. He does not answer,
and her whispers, soft and rasping like the air
whistling through the grated window,
are lost in translation.
I watch the old playground, now muddy
and covered with ivy, but it sits untouched.
A door slams upstairs, a rickshaw’s horn
rings in the distance,
and the rain begins its relentless downpour.
By Shaam Beed
Shaam is a student at Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey. His favorite subjects include American history and Chinese, and he finds himself often writing about his family, culture, and random subjects. He has not founded any foundations or published any books, but someday he hopes to become an adult.