The Mom allows the eight-year-old boy to sit shotgun for the first
time. He watches red cars glint in the sun as they drive.
She tells him he needs to learn a shloka. She’s making him sing it at
Temple Sunday where the incense smoke soaks into his clothes.
The boy didn’t know sitting shotgun came with a price. Mom’s voice
distracts him from the woosh of shiny cars passing by, but he knows
better than to bargain with a voice that stills him.
Yaakundain Duthashaarahaara Davalaa, she sings & he repeats,
sullenly. He repeats as she corrects his duhs & dhuhs. Her voice soothes but he
remembers the lady in Apollo 13 humming her sweet song in the shower.
He is determined not to let beauty lull him into false security. That
mother’s voice could drift out of his reach at any moment. This is
why they teach detachment at Temple.
So he stays sullen as he repeats. Yaakundain Duthashaarahaara Davalaa.
He feigns apathy. Saraswati Bhagava- She interrupts,
bhuh not buh. Herepeats. Saraswati Bhagavati.
He repeats, in his head, until the syllables that are not yet words loop,
until the sounds that are not yet symbols are recited automatically
when his Mom wakes him from the couch to go sleep upstairs.
The song—Yaaveena Varadandamande Takaraa—
creates a sail—Yashwestapad Maasinaa—
of Sanskrit syllables to clutch,