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Content Categorized ‘Nonfiction’

A House in Karachi

It sits on a hill—a fact that does not, in most places, distinguish a house as anything beyond ordinary. But it does in Karachi, which is in large part a flat city, squat and sprawling and a bit surly on…

Witness Tree

1. Suppose I start with a tree. It’s an old tree, tagged with neighborhood graffiti, wide as a linebacker. It’s where we met to sing hymns and pray before heading out into the night to find homeless people and sex workers,

Wind

When lightning hits water, the electricity spreads outward across the surface. The mast of our boat was a problem much the way a lone tree is: with its tendrils of positive charge, it called to the polarized clouds, literally reaching…

Monsoon and Peacock

What monsoon can do is give you sweetness in spite of the heavy wet. Even when it rains in Kerala, India, people still ride their colorful scooters, and some even carry a friend or a love along with them. If it is a woman behind the driver, she will sit sidesaddle, wrapped in her sari or churidar. One hand grips only the padded rim of the seat for support, the other holds a black umbrella covering herself and the driver. The thwap-thwap-thwap of raindrops the size of quarters and the scooter’s engine—the only sounds worth noticing on their damp course through the village streets. This rain is never scary, though, even during monsoon. You can tell monsoon is near when you hear a sound like someone shaking a packet of seeds in the distance. A pause—and then the roar. You know it’s coming when the butterflies—fire skippers and blue­bottles—fly in abundance over my grandmother’s cinnamon plants and suddenly vanish. A whole family of peacocks will gather up in a banyan tree, so still, as if posing for a seasonal portrait. Then the shaking sound begins. If you could smell the wind from an ecstatic, teeny bat—if you could smell banana…

Snowflake No. 1

My mom’s mother, my Oma, knitted, crocheted, embroidered, and sewed skillfully. In the years I knew her, she spent evenings watching television news programs with my Opa, always working a project in her hands and lap. My mom never learned…