by Rumjhum Biswas
My soul is going to walk out on me one of these days. I’m sure of it. That damn soul is going to walk out of me, and go some place else. It’s going to shrug me off the way we shrug off our rain coats, overcoats and Ulster coats. Ah the Ulster, such an elegant garment. I remember my mom owned one. Hers was a black velvet thing cinched at the waist. She had inherited it from her mother. She called it allester. She also called cheese cheech. Her rustic Indian English used to get on my nerves. I didn’t know then she’d pawned her jewelry to put me in the Convent school.
My mother was beautiful and carried a scent around her that only someone from an old family could possess. She had many old things; stuff she’d inherited and which were still around, not sold or pawned. That Ulster Coat was one. I wanted it. I wanted my mom’s smell too, and her thick long black hair, her soft belly, her sheer marble-like skin. But I could hardly get near her. And because I couldn’t get near her I foraged among her clothes. I once slyly and hurriedly wore an English lace blouse she used to wear before she became a married woman and put on weight. She used to be slim hipped as a girl, but had boobs. I thought I was old enough to fit into the spaces where her boobs went in.
It’s a strange feeling: me looking back at her to a time when I didn’t even exist. My soul wrenches when I do that, much like the raw chicken leg you twist and turn and finally wrench free of the carcass. And I am sure my soul will walk out one of these days. I won’t be dead after that. I’ll look at the back of my soul walking away. I’ll feel empty in a place, the way, I assume, an apple feels after it has been cored. And I’ll keep thinking of my mother and how she lived. Always thinking of dying, and wanting it so desperately, but always condemning suicide as the worst sin a soul could commit. Poor thing. She should have gotten rid of her soul instead.
Rumjhum Biswas has been published in countries in all the five continents in both online and print journals and anthologies. One of her poems was long listed in the Bridport Poetry Prize 2006 and is also a finalist in the 2010 Aesthetica Creative Arts Contest. She has won prizes in poetry contests in India. Her poem “March” was commended in the Writelinks’ Spring Fever Competition, 2008. Her story -”Ahalya’s Valhalla” – was among Story South’s Million Writers’ notable stories of 2007. Her poem “Bones” has been nominated for a 2010 Pushcart by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. She was a participating poet in the 2008 Prakriti Foundation Poetry Festival in Chennai. She was a featured poet during the Poetry Slam organized jointly by the US Consul General, Chennai and The Prakriti Foundation in December 2009. In December 2010 she was a participating poet at the first Hyderabad Literary Festival organized by Osmania University and Muse India. She is one among ten Indian poets to feature in an exclusive forthcoming anthology edited by Jayant Mahapatra along with Yuyutsu RD Sharma. She blogs at: http://rumjhumkbiswas.wordpress.com/, http://polyphagous.wordpress.com And has a monthly column (Rumjhum’s Ruminations)at Flash Fiction Chronicles -? http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/
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Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.