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Generations by Emilia Hickman

My mother, grandmother, and her mother before

by Sriya Bandyopadhyay

"The tray rotates in a perfect cycle, / As the radiating glow of candles illuminates / Each part of my face."

I feel the flames get closer to my face, 

As a copper tray approaches me, 

And a calloused finger anoints me with red. 

It shocks me and my eyes widen. 

I am greeted by my mother and grandmother,  

Each on either side of me, 

Closing their eyes and chanting a hymn  

Under the breath. 

The tray rotates in a perfect cycle, 

As the radiating glow of candles illuminates 

Each part of my face.  

Starting at my temple,  

Trailing down to my right cheekbone, 

Then my lips,  

Then my left ear and then  

My forehead,  

My presence is acknowledged by the gods.  

The same sacred motion 

Received by my mother,  

Her grandmother, 

And her mother before. 


My mother and grandmother  

Push me forward, 

Gesturing that I should offer myself 

As the representative for my family.  

“What is your name?” 

The priest asks me as he juggles 

A tray filled with the same  

Species of marigold that have been growing 

Outside the temple for years.  

I clear my throat and respond. 

He nods his head and mumbles in silence 

As he sprinkles drops of sacred water  

Over my head.  

The cold water startles me 

As he rushes to the next question. 

“What is your caste, young girl?” 

The same two questions  

Before each blessing, 

to my mother,  


And her mother before, 

But different responses in each. 

The bond to God is created anew 

In each girl’s youth, 

And is reborn when the next 

Goes to mark her acceptance.   


The predictability of our faith  

Is what allows us to grow.  

The scripture doesn't change, 

Allowing our fates to be variable.  

The rituals don’t alter, 

Making the connection to our ancestors enviable.  

The rhythm of our belief doesn’t falter, 

So we can expand our knowledge and be indispensable. 

We sit in patience in front of the altar 

To be spiritually defensible. 


About the Writer...

Sriya (she/her) is a high school senior living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and she attends The American School of Dubai. Her poems have been published with The Weight Journal, Teen Ink, KidSpirit, The Rolling Stone, Blue Marble Review, and Footprints on Jupiter. She has published her own book, Being The One, describing her journey as a teenager in diverse environments. Her poetry is inspired by the small details in her daily life, but speaks to larger ideas of personal growth. As an author, she has progressed from writing solely about external events, to internal revelations.

About the Artist...

Emilia Hickman is a junior in high school and at the moment she has an interest in drawing people in her life. This is a picture of her and her mom.

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