Supriya Lopez Pillai

Nalini’s Daughter

Nalini’s daughter naively sought refuge in a land of refugees, devising deeply failed plans to erect permanent shelter on flood plains and fault lines, where only the most wistful of childhood memories came to her on long sleepless nights reminding her that she was forever suspended between worlds, a citizen of in between and nowhere, a child of immigrant parents with a homeland of their own and while they had given her an adopted home, she scoured the earth for what was rightfully hers, for a place where the dispossessed and disjointed, for those who carried home upon their backs could finally rest, without integrating and assimilating, and could just be; she ached for such a place and the aching caused her heart to break, not evenly down its center dividing it into two equal parts, but she felt her heart was like a splintered pomegranate that, in its rush to be opened at the hands of a child, had imposed unwanted freedom on each individual seed that flailed about, imprisoning a soulless whole fruit that had lost its very core, and it was this longing that drew her from one checkpoint to the next (among illiterate soldiers who stared purposefully at her identity card upside down, claiming that this place on the cartography of their maps—false manmade boundaries—was not any place at all for her to wander and she best leave, unless she could offer some bread, a tin of tuna, or better yet, currency preferably in the form of US dollars) from one salted earth to the next, into the homes of strangers with warm smiles and temporary beds, and long after they bid her farewell, she hung in their rafters with the ghosts to appear not as a nuisance but leaving her mark, like the breadcrumbs of Hansel and Gretel, in case she was ever to return, in case if she had stumbled in her hurried search and failed to recognize the obvious: she had finally found the very place where it was that she belonged. 

Supriya Lopez Pillai is a writer and mother based in Oakland, California.  Recent fiction and poetry have been published in Sky Island JournalThe Margins (Asian American Writers Workshop), Meat for Tea: The Valley Review and as part of the installation Art in the Time of Covid (Raspberry Neon Art House)She is a 2021 Pushcart Award nominee.  From 1997 – 2001 she was an editor and writer at Stress Magazine, focused on hip hop and the contemporary socio-political issues of the time. She is the Executive Director of the Hidden Leaf Foundation, dedicated to transformative change and social justice movement building.