Nirmala-Nataraj

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August 3, 2021
Laughter Unlocks a Door That Invites Us Into Living

It’s the Fool card I select, over and over, every time I get tired of the residue of tea leaves at the bottom of my cup. Tired of swirling the detritus to sculpt it into a shape that approximates meaning and familiarity. Into a clear answer that inhales and exhales within the murk. I don’t […]

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July 1, 2021
After Alcohol

I understand that some part of my reluctance to see my good friends yesterday had more to do with my fear of how others, even those who say they love me, will perceive me than the reality of what I will actually experience. It often goes this way: I end up having a wonderful time, […]

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June 2, 2021
Midnight Stroll

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep. –Robert Frost I remember the poet’s words as the moonlight falls on the path, lighting up the plumes of mist that seem to swallow the trees like pale, ghostly […]

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May 15, 2021
Summer Squall

The thunder is raging and the ink-black sky fills with lightning. I can imagine Jupiter wending through the sea of clouds, his white beard hanging low to the ground, his naked loins poised for warfare, his face contorted into a grimace or a gale of rapturous laughter. We’re on his turf now. We turn the […]

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April 14, 2021
The Great Mystery

I was passing a man in the airport, a beautiful Sikh man with a burgundy turban. I may have declined any sort of alliance with him in my younger years, out of shame, out of annoyance that anyone would choose to be so visible. But I thought about this today. Today, knowing that I am […]

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March 28, 2021
Permission Slip

You have permission to be unabashedly free, yourself, outside the mandates of what is considered acceptable, friendable, fuckable, American enough, enough of anything familiar or familial or similar to it. I give you permission to claim the fact that your ancestors hail from what is considered a shithole country but was the epicenter of civilization […]

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February 6, 2021
The In-Between

Being in the in-between reminds me of standing at the entrance of a house where you’ve sorta been invited over but you don’t really feel welcome. After all, you’ve never met anyone there and you just can’t stand small talk. To make matters worse, it’s raining really, really hard outside and you have nowhere to […]

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January 3, 2021
Winter’s Visit

Spring is my favorite season now that I live in upstate New York. In California, life drifted from one ice-blue sky to the next. Fog on the Golden Gate bridge was a wraith that always managed to sneak into my Indian summers, and palpable shards of sunlight fastened a deceptive caveat to the long nights […]

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December 1, 2020
Bodhisattva

I was compelled by the idea of the bodhisattva vow—this ancient, sacred contract to achieve enlightenment for the sake of liberating all sentient beings—being tied to something as base and primal as a one-night stand. Of course, for the woman I was talking to, one-night stands were never what they seemed. Furtive trysts with men […]

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November 11, 2020
Island

The hand is a throne, and it lives in the heart. It’s where fire, earth, wind, and water coalesce and become something tangible. It’s where you are drawn when you want to be a body and simultaneously more than a body, when you want to come home to yourself and remember. The memory goes like […]

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