nonfiction by Emily NortheyYuddha Kanda
The Yuddha Kanda describes how a floating bridge is built to Lanka and Rama crosses it to save his wife. He fights and finally kills Ravana and saves Sita from her prison. To test her purity, he asks her to perform a trial by fire, which she willingly jumps into and comes out of unburned and whole. Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya—Rama’s exile is now over—and he regains the throne.
Her keeper takes her to the city and asks her to blink at millions of billboards, children running through the street, preserved ruins of past kingdoms. But he is still not convinced. He beckons her to ceremonies with young dancers and tents billowing with perfumed smoke and candles trailing on the ground, spangling the floor like a reflection of the stars. She can hardly focus. The dark makes her blink so slowly.
He leads her to the candles, begs her to take part. Her keeper sits in the dust. She watches as someone takes their fingertips and plays with the tiny curling flames, then she closes her eye.
But her keeper clutches a return ticket. She glances around her, catching things she’s missed.
Her keeper sighs.
She gazes upwards, sees that the circling palm trees remind her of Florida, swim suits, water with ice cubes.
Cattle behind fences. Beiges and creams and grays.