a medical history
i swim upstream, dive off of providence
splash through the atlantic
sprint through europe
land on punjabi soil, chandigarh 1967:
i’m a forward thought
in my mother’s mind
I visit and leave her dreams with ease.
for father, i’m the coveted ovum
where egg successfully meets sperm — life begins
scribbled in his class notes.
mother studies the human body by her dorm window
cradles her face with her hands
sniffs ink and scrub soap on her fingertips
her thoughts swaying through anatomy, physiology, biology:
the building blocks of life.
father strolls by mother’s dormitory
wonders about the bones that
make up the human hand
the school skeletal bones clink
away in the skin of his pant pockets.
i see the two of them
in the college canteen — medical students
examining the human heart, feeding it
cold coffee and chutney sandwiches
consulting other students studying that
anatomical organ sustaining life.
they discuss the procedures
for cardiovascular operations:
open the chest cavity wide
expose the organ to its fullest
watch it thump, blood pumping
then, like a village seamstress
cut and snip, snip and sew.
father misses lecture to stand in line
at the blood bank where mother works
he tells his friend he is sick, doesn’t feel well
the diagnosis: the heart
you cannot go to the chemist for this.
father gives mother’s nieces silk saris and
her sisters sweets in exchange for
nana’s approval and nani’s blessings.
matches are made in heaven, father says
they smile for the wedding photographer
the transfusion of marriage is complete.
— Meeta Kaur, 2007.
Meeta Kaur is the managing editor of the forthcoming volume Her Name Is Kaur: Sikh American Women Write About Love, Courage, and Faith, published by She Writes Press. This groundbreaking collection of stories is available for pre-order at Amazon.