Dogbane Beetle

Ne'er a Lion

My mother tried to scrub the paints off my body for days. It wasn’t Holi, just play pretend, and she would’ve rather I kissed a boy.
That was a lie, but it was alright. I left for school with blue paint still smeared on my face, and violet and crimson on my arms. She dropped me off muttering curses under her breath.

Years later, I’d find myself covered in paint again, this time on Holi. A friend and I found our way to a taxi cab and our stained saris tangled themselves as we stumbled in, mumbling thanks between bouts of laughter and grins.

The man turned around to face us and smiled. His eyes flicked back and forth between the two of us before settling on me. He spoke softly yet firmly: “Your face is blue, madam, like that of Krishna.”

I hadn’t been called madam before, and it hit me like a truck that I liked it.

The boy I was with raised an eyebrow, studying my shocked face for a moment. He then leaned back with a satisfied grin. He’d later ask me what he should call me.


There’s that ambrosian golden light,
Spilling ‘cross the rooftops
Overhead, flying, a colorful kite
It rises, rises-- sinks and drops

A boy sits on a black street’s curbside
Holding tight to a spool of flight
He is gleeful; bright-eyed
Staring up at its towering height

His mother lovingly calls him in
To her faintly glowing home
He runs to her arms with a vibrant grin
Away from the looming gloam

They share a meal with attention
Laughter echoing ‘cross the room
Expelling the silent convention
Together, mother and son, they bloom