Saturday, December 24, 2011


They come in great big trucks filled to the rim
chances of survival now are nil

injured and sick de-stressing in a pen
waiting for the vet to say when

a long needle pricks them down for nap
in heaven, they will now flap their wings,

necks hung up by a hook, in a swift move
a knife pierces their throat

bled, de-haired, sanitized
beheaded, split in half, frozen
skinned, portioned and split
lurched down separate lines to be processed

smoked or wood fired for Hickory flavor
browned in a machine for caramel color
flattened and compressed, sliced to strips
bacon is packaged ready to be shipped

another line has ham or pork belly
the skin is separated for-- jelly

unmentionable organs are cleaned and cut
shipped to customers who even eat the gut.

A Hog's life is over in less than one year
we keep harvesting and processing without a tear...
The head is stripped into many parts
the tongue a delicacy, even more than the heart.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Girl in Paradise – PART THREE

Shiv and Pari’s grandmother ran the house with a solid hand.  Having lost a household helper, the despotic grandmother assigned chores to little Pari.  Shiv watched Pari morph from an innocent sweetness to an overworked, neglected young girl.  Her vacant eyes carried her through the days which turned into months and years.  Her clothes hung on her like a rag doll.

One day Shiv saw her walk across the courtyard carrying a basket of clean clothes.  He noticed her face change colors and scrunched as if in pain.  He walked up to her and touched her shoulder lightly.  She winced as he asked if she was okay.  He offered to carry the basket for her while she walked slowly behind him.  Since he was a boy, he was not allowed to do any household chores.  She sat on the bed and started to fold the clothes.  Each movement seemed an effort until she could carry on no longer.  She allowed herself to fall on the bed and her eyes closed.

Shiv let her rest and walked away.  A few minutes later he heard screams.  He ran in to see Pari waving her arms in the air frantically as if fighting unseen demons.  His grandmother walked in and exclaimed, “She’s got the devil in her.”  Next think he knew Pari had been moved to a remote corner of the house.  Over the next few weeks he witnessed the comings and goings of various sadhus, priests, exorcists.  They carried feathers of unusual birds, red hot peppers in bunches, smoking clays bowls and various other unidentifiable objects.  He heard shrieks all through the days and nights.

One night he sneaked in to her room and saw her face by the glow of a diya clay lamp.  Her eyes stared up at the ceiling as if in a trance.   He noticed her sunken-in cheeks on her ghost white face.  Even though she was under blankets, her body shivered.  The howling wind outside travelled in to whisper terror in her ears.  Her feeble voice called out, “don’t snatch me, no… make the pain go away.”

The next morning they found her stiff body cold as the Himalayan mountain peak.  The image of her sparkling and later glassy green eyes stayed with Shiv.  He also could never forget the tragic and short life his angelic cousin had endured.  If only he had the strength or the intellect to help her.  Years later he learned that his Pari had in fact been possessed with a demon and that demon had a name – Cancer.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little Girl in Paradise – PART TWO

A whole month passed before Shiv was allowed to see his new cousin. Her hazel eyes were as deep as Dal Lake, her skin as soft as the snow on the mountains, her hair as dark as the night sky.  She reminded him of an angel and decided to call her Pari.

From a delicate bud, Shiv observed his cousin bloom into a colorful flower.  He laughed as she tried to toddle behind her mother.  He listened to her as she added words, then sentences and finally the incessant questions.  She followed him everywhere in the house but as soon he stepped outside the main gate of the courtyard, she would look at her mother and back away.

Just like any ordinary day, Shiv dashed back home before sunset from his daily adventures in the orchards and river bank.  But one day as he stepped through the gate, what greeted him was unlike anything his creative mind could have imagined.  A commotion of adults gathered in the courtyard.  The air was filled with a stench he could not place. His mother saw him frozen at the gate.  She ran to him, sheltered him in the folds of her sari and walked him away from the courtyard into the house to join his cousins in a room.  Pari ran up to him and looked up with her big, wet hazel eyes searching for answers.  He had none and looked away.  She sat down beside him and rested her head on his shoulder.

The day of commotion was never discussed in the house.  Shiv picked up words like “spark”, “cooking” or remarks like “sari clung to the skin”, “what a tragedy” from neighborhood chatter.  He stared at Pari unsure what to say to her.  She walked around the house in search of her mother, tears constantly rolling down her cheeks.