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Welcome to the Family by Amrita Ketireddy

to my mother, who never cried in room 207

After Ocean Vuong

By Aarushi Gupta

“i dread the red of your eyes like a / twenty-nine-year-old dreads his birthday.”  

under a painting of indra (1) scorned, you make

your mandir (2) in the familiar dip of the mattress. soon,

the view will be replaced by the smiling portrait of  

your mother, who lays in bed behind. the mattress will turn

white, for the only south indian snowstorm is the whirl

of dupattas (3) at funerals, icicles melting under the weight

of unshed tears. i dread the red of your eyes like a

a twenty-nine-year-old dreads his birthday. not black

remembering, but the pink of your unpolished nail

forgetting itself, pressing crescents into my arm. red, 

commutative as death itself. if time is a mother, why

does it freeze in hospital rooms, where the umbilical cord

is forged again and again? locked in this furnace,

withstanding the heat of being ganesha (4) for once, you think

of the last time you prayed to god in this room. go

on, mother, pick up the phone and call. morph into parvati,

remember the time they churned my stomach, a

samudra manthana (5). painkiller amrut, splattered on the floor

outside our house. floating in that puddle, i saw

an eyelash, its shortness a gift you gave freely. yours or

mine? perhaps, neither. it belonged to nani (6) first,

but so did you. i wish i was there with you, wish i could feel

the cosmic pulling of draupadi’s saree (7) pause. i

wish i could tear a hole in it, sew an extra yard of cotton into

the dupatta of time. but if there’s one thing i learnt

the day you first walked into room 207, it’s that no one can hide

from a mother’s wrath.

(1) indra is the hindu god of rain, storms, thunder and lightning.

(2) mandir is hindi for temple.

(3) dupatta is an indian garment, similar to a shawl.

(4) ganesha is the son of goddess parvati in hindu mythology.

(5) samudra manthana refers to a myth wherein the gods churned the ocean to obtain the holy nectar called amrut.

(6) nani is hindi for grandmother.

(7) draupadi’s saree refers to a tale from the mahabharata wherein there was an attempt to humiliate draupadi by pulling off her saree. however, lord krishna intervened, making the saree infinitely long and preserving draupadi’s dignity.


About the Writer...

Aarushi Gupta (she/her) is a high school senior from Bangalore, India. You can find more of her work at

About the Artist...

Amrita Ketireddy is a junior at Creekside High School. She has done fine arts for nearly ten years alongside tennis. She is a member of numerous honor societies and clubs, though is an officer of her school's Creative Writing Club, Film Production Club, and FBLA. In the future, she hopes to study Software Engineering along with Fine Arts and follow her passion for creating things from the ground up.

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