Maybe it was wrong to bring the baby. Deepa could’ve called Louisa to watch the child, or one of her expecting friends eager for practice. She didn’t mind leaving Anu to go to the gym or buy groceries or swipe through racks at Marshall’s. In fact, she liked it.
Ruchi stared out the one window at a gray tree with bare, swollen limbs. The appointment was a follow up to double-check points and readings. A follow up to the routine sonogram, but Naren couldn’t take another day. Ruchi had explained all this over the phone. “Silly, no, over nothing?”
She’d been pleased Ruchi had called, that she thought of Deepa for these situations, an acknowledgement of need. “Ruch, the sonogram is the picture, not the test.”
A great many magazines fanned across side tables. Time and Life and Ladies Home Journal. Vogues from the spring. Pale, oversized faces with intent eyes and upturned mouths stared up at them, at the soft pastels and scuffed walls, the framed watercolors that Deepa found oppressive.
The baby walked in circles in the middle of the room, craning her neck at each person. One couple held hands and frowned. “Don’t fall,” the woman said.
Sometimes, Deepa stared at the child. Not just her face but an ankle, a shoulder, the soft bones in her wrists. On their own, each part was odd and simple—a curve of flesh covered in down. Sometimes, she wasn’t sure what to feel, whether grateful or lost.
“She’s such entertainment,” Ruchi said. “Like a doll.” She put a hand on her belly and grimaced.
“I think you’ll also have a girl.” Ruchi nodded, though Deepa suspected that she wanted a boy because Deepa had also wanted a boy but knew enough not to wish for it aloud.
Had it been Deepa’s appointment, Sanjay would have found a way to be there. He was attentive that way. He’d learned to make tea in the morning and let Deepa sleep an extra hour on Saturdays. He made a show of calling out in a voice full of cheer and good will when her mother phoned collect. They were the couple that had most naturally adopted the American habit of showing affection. In front of visitors, he grazed her shoulder, threw a casual arm around her waist. Kissed her on the lips, sometimes with force, sometimes dryly, to say good-bye.
Worm-like ripples fanned across Ruchi’s kameez. The fabric strained around her shoulders. Deepa had given Ruchi all her maternity clothes, dresses and shirts and jeans with elastic bands that could stretch over her growing belly. It made no sense that she didn’t use them. “I can give you all the baby clothes you’ll need,” Deepa said and picked up the magazine with Cher on the cover in nylon and feathers, face too long, owl-like eyes.
* * *
“Ru-chi May-ta,” the technician called. She was unnaturally tall, with lustrous, brown hair around an unsmiling face, the yellowed complexion of a smoker. Her scrubs were a dizzying floral that left a pain behind Deepa’s eyes. Everyone turned to her except the holding hands couple and Anu who was slapping the magazines like they were alive.
“Come with me, dear.”
“Can my friend join?”
“Your friend, honey?”
“My husband is at work.”
Deepa had the sensation that they were having a very private conversation in public. The woman eyed Anu and started down the hall. “Keep that child in your lap. No one needs her running around.”
Anu was big for 17 months. When Deepa picked her up, she lizarded up her arms to escape, not caring where she kicked, where she grabbed. “Like this woman knows anything about children,” Deepa whispered, but Ruchi didn’t respond. “It will be fine, yaar.”
The exam room was cramped and smelled like too much disinfectant. Beige walls that veered pink; machines, with their dials and cords, whirred and blew air from their bowels. Paper robes. Cold, inhospitable jelly. When she was pregnant, Deepa hadn’t loved seeing the baby on the black and white monitor, though she had fawned and smiled when the technician pointed out a hand or spine. She recognized nothing except the defiant skull, and only half listened to what was being said. She had become good at making her face attentive, solicitous even, while inside she roamed her body as one might roam inside a sprawling house of half-finished rooms. Sanjay watched with rapt attention, absently thumbing her wrist back and forth. Her mother said she was lucky to have such a husband and despite herself, Deepa felt proud.
“Gown opens in front. Take off everything,” the technician said, and then, more softly, like she’d just remembered, “I’ll be back.”
From the rolling stool, the only seat in the room, Deepa let Anu slink to the floor. “I don’t know why these rooms have to be so cold.” Ruchi stood with the gown in her hand. “Oh, Ruch, we’re all ladies here. Just change.”
“I just,” she started and then looked at the door. “What if we leave now? I don’t want to be here.”
“It will be nothing. Just see,” Deepa said. But doctors didn’t call you back for nothing. Sanjay said every ultrasound cost the hospital more than it was worth. It was exasperating. She had come, hadn’t she? She had brought Anu and driven them to the hospital and forgone the child’s 90-minute afternoon nap. “Be reasonable, Ruchi. What can happen? The baby’s kicking and growing, so what more?”
Ruchi turned from her and slipped out of her salwar. Her legs in that light were like wet sand. In school, Ruchi had been the slim one, but in pregnancy, Deepa had done better with her weight. She’d resisted cravings and counted calories while Sanjay worried that she was starving their child.
Ruchi wrapped the paper robe tight before wiggling out of her underwear, which she balled up and hid under her bag in the corner of the room. “They should at least have a changing area.”
The technician returned in a gust of wind, ringlets buoyant around her grim face. She glared at Anu and clucked her tongue. “Trip on a wire and bloody her pretty tooth.”
Deepa smiled and pulled the baby to her, bounced her on her lap to emphasize the fun they had together. Though it was Sanjay who played. When he was home, he carried Anu from room to room. He crawled on his hands and knees across the rough carpet to tickle her to death. He lay on his back and let Anu pull his hair and walk over his chest, and then sat up and swept her off her feet until she laughed into his underarm. He spoke to her with a singular singsong, calling her “potlu” and “janu” and “dikri” with such tenderness that the air turned sticky around the child. Sometimes, Deepa didn’t know he was home until she walked into a room and there he was with his daughter.
The technician placed a hand on Ruchi’s. “You have to keep still so I can get my pictures. Then we’ll show them to the doctor and then he’ll want more pictures. That’s how this works.”
The technician’s name was Georgia. It was the first time Deepa had heard the name of the state used as a regular name and felt stupid for not knowing that it was a name before it was a state. She didn’t like how many times this happened to her even after years. They were in the process of securing their green cards, and she pretended she didn’t care that she couldn’t go home. She pretended she knew everything she needed to know about this place she had wanted to move to so badly that she smothered her longing for the heat, the palms, the boardwalk she loved, because to long for them meant failure. She didn’t realize that she would arrive knowing nothing.
Georgia didn’t angle the machine toward Ruchi the way technicians did during routine procedures. But Deepa could see the grainy black and white images, the baby moving, Georgia’s pupils flitting from one corner of the screen to another. With one hand she guided the stiff metal arm of the machine across Ruchi’s belly, and with the other she pressed buttons and breathed audibly. Her lipstick was a little off, like she’d misjudged.
Ruchi gripped the wax paper on the bed. In fear, her face was achingly lovely, a stitch in her brow as she prepared for the moment after this one, placed herself there and worked her way back.
Anu flapped her lips and rocked in Deepa’s lap, precocious and big eyed and fair skinned, the kind of baby easily adored. “She doesn’t know her own strength sometimes,” Deepa said.
“Got to show her who’s mommy,” Georgia said without taking her eyes off the screen. “Last one. Now stay put while I show these to the radiologist. There’s no point in getting dressed.” She smiled for the first time, and Ruchi smiled back. But Deepa knew better. No good news came that way. She wished she could offer comfort, stroke Ruchi’s hair or whisper encouragement. As children they brushed against each other without a thought, talked with their faces nearly touching. But now she couldn’t find the softness.
* * *
Deepa had been stunned by childbirth: the way her body could break open and a few days later sift flour for rotis. At the hospital, she’d worried that the nurses could smell the despair in her tears. But in the quiet of her hospital room, she’d held Anu close and considered escaping with her to live in a small room in a city where no one knew them. The love was that strange and overwhelming, returning her to the violent impulses of childhood.
When her family called to congratulate her, she could hear the disappointment. She could hear the insistent horns and the tide slapping rocks and the people shouting orders on the street. There was a notable pause in her mother’s jubilation, a deliberate holding back. A girl. She berated Deepa for refusing the epidural. “Why are you in America if you don’t make the most of a functioning hospital?”
The dreams started weeks later, a welcome distraction. They were dimly lit but enough to see a woman with dark hair that blended into her skin, reminiscent of the kids who haunted Dadar station, weaving through traffic like sea creatures. The rooms were bedrooms or bathrooms or, occasionally, hospital rooms. Sometimes the woman was in a bed with tubes taped to her arms, her face serene. Deepa couldn’t quite make out her features but she sensed they were beautiful.
Sometimes the dream woman lay in bed and stared at the wall though there was a window. Sometimes she was naked. Sometimes Deepa followed her legs up from the ankles to her hips. The hairs on her thighs made small ‘s’s. She had the form of a woman but didn’t have to be one. Could be alien. Could be animal. Deepa, in the dream, was somewhere by the foot of the bed or watching from a threshold or behind a window. At times, she conjured the dream on purpose, lying very still so nothing came between her and the thing just behind her eyes.
She was surprised at first how easily she could turn the vision on and off. How she could get up, wash her face, and call her mother. Or get up, wash her face, and greet her husband. Or get up, wash her face, and hold her daughter. It could be there and gone from one second to the next.
But it was getting harder. She’d be holding Anu, trying to sooth her after a fall. Or changing her diaper. Or reading her a book. And then she’d see a shock of hair. A patch of flesh. A crease. And she’d be so startled she’d search for an intruder.
* * *
The baby was fine. Fine in the sense that it was growing and had all its limbs and organs and heartbeat. The word the radiologist used was “cosmetic.” No, “purely cosmetic.” The problems with the baby were pure. Pure problems. The exam room filled with the thickness in Ruchi’s voice as she asked questions, as she nodded and even smiled. The doctor patted her hand. “Most of this can be repaired down the line,” he said, and Deepa pictured a conveyor belt in a factory with no end. They thanked the doctor for his time, and she carried Ruchi’s too big purse with Anu’s body pressed up against hers, passing Georgia at the nurse’s station carving out crust from under her nails.
Ruchi’s tears on the way home were tiny and strangled. Could she not just cry, big and messy? Could she not just scream if she had to? Anything but this hesitance to make a single mark.
“Ere, Ruch, who wouldn’t be upset,” she said.
Anu’s constant, cheerful babble filled the car. Deepa tried to shush her with a loud “Shh.” All around, sun picked off colored leaves that framed abandoned mills, the decayed houses of the backroads. The first year she’d marveled at the change of season, the flash before death, until it became ordinary, like nothing.
“What can you do?” Ruchi asked. It was a phrase she said whenever she didn’t know what to say. “The baby is fine.”
“So many things can be done later. In a few years there will be better surgeries and therapies.”
Anu cried out in mad glee. The evening stretched out ahead. Bath and hunger and then refusal to eat and then more hunger. Then Sanjay would come home and Anu would change into a limp, fawning child.
She dropped Ruchi off in front of the house. She could have offered to go inside, to spend some time, but she didn’t. Clouds passed over the sun, giving the neighborhood an even shabbier appearance. The houses tightly spaced, most ranch-style single levels with detached garages used for storage. No sidewalks or landscaped islands. Broken cars lazing on a yard across the street. Had it always been like that? These neighbors who cared so little about their lawns? The Mehtas’ was also hardly a thing to look at. More dirt than grass. Maybe Ruchi could move. Maybe after the baby was born and they were settled into a routine. Surely they must have saved.
Still, she worried sometimes that Ruchi, who’d always gotten top marks in school, might overtake her. Have more money, more friends, more children. Perhaps find her footing here in a way that made Deepa’s footing seem small, insignificant. It was unlikely now, and the thought offered a melancholic pleasure.
* * *
At dinner, Anu wouldn’t eat. Refused daal, refused rice, refused any version of vegetable. Anu sat in her highchair and bounced and smacked her lips and turned from the spoon that Deepa brought to her lips. But she was not going to be a mother who made separate dinners for her child. She cajoled and tricked and caught the food that dribbled down Anu’s chin and re-fed her. She made everything bland these days, food that repulsed her. Rotis without ghee, mirch barely sprinkled on top that added no taste. All this for her daughter who looked at her with bright, unflinching defiance.
“No!” Anu said and swatted the spoon away. It clattered to the terracotta tile that had turned out to be difficult to clean; liquid marks lasted for weeks if not wiped immediately. Deepa stared at the yellow blot on the floor. Some had splattered on her big toe, over the maroon nail polish, cartoon-like and stupid. She closed her eyes and when she opened them Anu clapped her hands, the whole thing an elaborate game that had no point except to start over and over.
Deepa was the one who came up with the rule about television. “It’s bad for her brain,” she’d said and felt like a good mother. She turned on the kitchen TV now and didn’t search for children’s programming on PBS. She left whatever was on—a Doublemint commercial. The baby quieted and stilled, channeling her entire being at the grainy screen. Her face went slack, and her mouth parted, not wide but just enough. The commercial featured twins, twins figure skating backward in bright green leotards, twins with red caps and blue snowsuits who laughed with their heads thrown back, throats gleaming. The figure skaters, on closer inspection, weren’t truly identical, just dressed the same, and possibly this was true for all the pairs in all the commercials, a grand optical illusion she’d fallen for.
Anu ate. Sometimes when she opened her mouth there was still food in it, but Deepa didn’t slow the feeding. She’d chew and swallow eventually. She finished her daal and even ate vegetables and half a roti. When Deepa turned off the TV, Anu wailed and slammed her back against the highchair. “Ay, Janu, it’s okay,” Deepa said and pressed the button back on.
When Sanjay returned, she pretended she’d forgotten to shut it off, like it was the background that played in American homes. “I thought it was bad for her,” he said.
“She ate well today.” The baby’s face was dirty, though Deepa had mopped the tile hoping it would dry stain-free. She poured the rest of the daal into a plastic container lined with yet more plastic. She liked to keep things looking new.
“That’s my dikri,” Sanjay murmured, his voice soft and slippery. He wet a paper towel and gently wiped the dried remnants around Anu’s chin, her face still glazed over and lulled.
That night he fell asleep on the day bed in Anu’s room, the child in his arms. Deepa held her breath as she lifted her and placed her in the crib, touching her cheek to feel for a temperature but not kissing her. She nudged Sanjay awake, and he drew her toward him, his eyes slitted and puffy with sleep.
“Anu,” she whispered.
“She won’t wake.”
Deepa pulled herself free, though she’d spent extra time wiping herself, plucking the hairs between her eyebrows, checking her face for strays. He trailed her back to the room, talking about a gallbladder, a patient who’d mistaken reflux for a heart attack.
“The doctor said cosmetic. Hardly 15 minutes he spent with us,” Deepa said. She lay on her side and slapped at the bottoms of her feet because she’d read somewhere circulation prevented varicose veins.
“Insurance won’t cover unless they are sure,” he said and ran a finger down her arm.
“The poor thing. Naren wasn’t even there.”
“He also is dealing with this.”
“The tech. Her name was Georgia. Like the state.”
His mouth pressed into a line. “They’re trained not to make mistakes.”
“The baby is perfectly healthy.”
“Health is the most important.”
He sucked on her earlobe. She didn’t pull away this time but didn’t lean in, like she was balanced on a precipice.
“We should try,” he said into her hair. “It can take time.”
“It didn’t with Anu.”
“Each one is different.”
“Or the same.” She felt his breath quicken, his right leg nudging between hers with purpose.
“Then the same.”
Surely somewhere she too wanted another child. It had to be what was missing, what made the house feel empty, fake even. She glanced at the two walk-in closets, the tall windows overlooking an abyss of green lawn that stretched to a row of pines planted in a rigid line. Theirs was a house on a hill. The first new construction among their friend circles. And yet, she wasn’t sure she liked it. The house, the lawn, the trees standing like soldiers or shadows.
She breathed in the nest-like smell of Sanjay’s shirt. What if she pushed him off? If she turned on all the lights so their white sheets glowed naked and plain? But she turned around and closed her eyes and let his hands move down her arm, over her hips, reaching lower until he found her. She wasn’t sorry to be with him. The problem was hers, the trauma of pushing the baby out had left everything wrong, somehow unkempt. She couldn’t feel a thing, but who would she be if she didn’t want it? Later, she wiped herself again in the bathroom, disturbing whatever made it inside, then waited for the steady snore of his breath, waited for sleep to carry him away before she let the dream rush forward and relieve her impatience.
* * *
Ruchi wasn’t answering the phone. Deepa learned that after 27 rings a phone stopped ringing. Or maybe it kept ringing for a period but stopped engaging, like blood that coursed through veins for a period after a heart stopped. Just before lunch she packed sandwiches for the two of them and snacks for Anu for a trip to the pond built into the center of their development, part of why the property had been more expensive than other, similar houses. She and Sanjay had picked Glastonbury for this and the schools. “There’s always some sacrifice,” the broker had said, her face all teeth, to explain why the house lacked a sunroom. It was unsettling, what could be considered a sacrifice, but hadn’t she nodded? Hadn’t she agreed?
She took an early exit off I84 to drive past the mobile homes at the end of the ramp. She liked seeing them, the rectangles with flowerpots and flags and one with stones around a welcome mat outside. She was reminded of the crumbling flat where she’d grown up and her mother’s excessive tidiness. She drove past the strip malls and two elementary schools, one considered better than the other but neither among the top schools of the state. It was recess and she slowed down to watch children in unzipped coats chase and call to each other wildly, a teacher blowing a whistle that no one heeded, string-haired girls doing cartwheels effortlessly, as if being flipped by God.
Anu was asleep. Somehow Deepa would have to extract her from car seat. But why disturb her? She’d wake up angry and irritated and what good would that do? It was sweater weather but sunny. Deepa rolled down all the windows halfway and placed a thin blanket across Anu’s legs. She’d only be a moment.
The doorbell didn’t work so she opened the screen and knocked. The hydrangeas were losing their petals and needed a trim. Though the dogwood next to the house was on full display, carelessly blooming. Naren opened the door. It was Monday, and he was unshaven and barefoot, as if he’d just been lying down.
“Oh, hello,” she said brightly.
He squinted like trying to make out fine print. “Ruchi didn’t mention.”
“I just thought, for company, but it’s fine. You took the day.” She held up the bag of sandwiches. “Chutney and cheese are her favorite.”
She followed him down a dark hall and past a bathroom where a towel lay on the floor. A bookshelf in the living room crammed with souvenir bells, an encyclopedia set, glossy photographs. Two hideous couches faced each other and a batik that Ruchi’s mother made hung on one wall. Pink and green and yellow embroidery. Deepa had a matching one, gifts for their send offs, but she didn’t know where it was. The room smelled like cinnamon and rotting fruit.
“I’ll get her,” he said.
“No, let her rest.”
They sat opposite each other on the couches. She could see he was nervous, folding and unfolding his hands, stealing glances at the bedroom as if by looking in that direction, Ruchi might appear.
Deepa had hardly spoken to him before. This man who married the only person in this country who’d known her as a child. It was strange to think it. Their childhood. There was no place for it, nowhere to lay the remembrances down and relieve them of their weight. And now this man slept next to her friend. Had impregnated her with a child. She’d barely thought of it before.
He sat back on the sofa and crossed a foot over a knee. Threw an arm over the back of the couch. A sliding door led to a backyard that sloped into thin, tired looking woods. “Of course it is not easy.”
His pants were short for him, and Deepa could see halfway up his calf. “No, it can’t be easy.”
“Defects,” he said, spitting the word.
“The doctor, she must have told you,” She was still holding the bag of sandwiches. “The baby is healthy.”
There was an air about him both petulant and aloof. “I should offer you a snack. Tea.”
“No need for formality.”
“Apparently we won’t know until, well, until it is born.”
“Sanjay says that the machines are still new and not foolproof.”
He dropped his voice to nearly a whisper. “The problem is that she’s so far along.”
“Too far, in fact.” The expression on his face was injured, like what he said hurt him to say. She tried to summon outrage, but anger eluded her. “In Bombay they would have sent us to family planning to make a choice. But this is not Bombay. Here there is the best care.”
She nodded. It was true, everything he was saying. She had not liked this man. He was reserved and unnecessarily grumpy. Slumped when he should take advantage of his height. The way he’d stood on the reception stage, barely smiling for photographs. She assumed that he’d never liked her either.
He sat up somewhat urgently and leaned forward, elbows on knees. “I’m not saying that—”
“But I understand.” The skin on her face felt rubbery, the air in the room close and stale. She stood up to open a window without asking. “If it had been me. I mean, Anu. I might be thinking the same thing. You don’t have to worry.”
She smoothed her white pants before sitting down again. His face was terrified. They were so young, all of them. Like they were trying out adulthood and got stuck in it, unable to trace their way back to what they were meant to be. She pointed at the bookshelf, a photo of Ruchi glancing away from the camera, her braid that Deepa had once decorated in picked flowers lying lazy on her shoulder, lips bitten. “I remember when we were that age.”
“It was just two years ago. Maybe three.”
She held out the bag of sandwiches. The bread had probably become soggy by now, the cheese too warm. “You’ll see that it will be fine. All fine.”
He took the bag and placed it next to him on the couch. She thought she saw tears in his eyes but when she checked again, they were clear and stony, like they would’ve been cold to the touch.
“What is that?” he said.
She turned around. “What is what?”
“A child. Those cries.” Naren pointed out the window she’d opened. Her parked car in the driveway, the windows dark.
“She was sleeping,” she said.
“Would she not sleep inside?”
Deepa spied a figure crouching behind the car. She wore a long, gauzy shift and stared at Deepa with her featureless face, a face with eyes and nose and mouth but no contours, a face still emerging. Deepa nodded in acknowledgement.
“She’s not a sound sleeper,” she said. “At this age sleep is everything.”
“Is it,” he said.
“Deepa?” It was as if the voice came from inside her own head. She didn’t want to turn away from the window, from the hiding woman. She didn’t want to see Ruchi but when she turned around there she was, framed by the dingy hall light, pillow creases around her eyes and her braid nearly undone.
“She brought you sandwiches,” Naren said.
“I was just leaving Ruch.”
Ruchi stroked her belly, up and down, side to side. The cries, breathless, sustained, grew louder. Naren stood up in alarm, Ruchi with her eyes wide, but what did they understand? Deepa searched for something cruel to say. Something biting and mean spirited. She squeezed Ruchi’s hand, still warm with sleep. “You’ll see, once you have your own.” She stepped out, but the woman was gone, a whorl of rust red leaves stirred in her wake.
* * *
Deepa made sure to give her turn signal at empty intersections, to wait until there wasn’t a single car on the horizon before merging onto the highway toward Hartford. She drove in the right lane and let other cars pass. She could feel her every choice, like she was observing herself from the passenger seat, the way her driving instructor, kindly Mr. Chernick, had done. She followed all the rules. The baby had grown hoarse but still wailed dry, sawdusty cries. She used her mirrors and checked twice before changing lanes.
She pulled into the driveway and clicked the automatic garage door opener and smoothly parked the car with the correct amount of space on both sides so that Sanjay wouldn’t have to re-park her car to fit his own, which he did without complaint. But today he wouldn’t have to. She’d been careful.
She could feel Anu’s eyes on her as she collected her handbag and shut the garage door. Her cries had dampened to whimpers. Deepa placed the keys on the washing machine before returning to the car, opening the back door, and reaching over the child to unlock her seatbelt. “Mami!” Anu called out, thrilled. Her face was sheeny, like a newborn’s. Deepa tugged but the buckle wouldn’t release. She arced over the child and pressed with both thumbs on the red lever. She was breathing heavily from the effort and wished she hadn’t closed the garage door. The garage with its rakes and drills and shovels that menaced from corners. Anu began to whimper again. “Mami, Mami,” she said over and over. A strand of Deepa’s hair stuck to the child’s tears and snot.
Deepa felt the scream in her throat. It tried to crawl out, but she held her mouth closed, like resisting a vomit. Her shirt was soaked in sweat and the baby was clawing at her, crying gibberish. She could leave her there with the window open and it would be okay. Sit in a chair by the door, close her eyes, and let the sound pass through her. Sanjay would be home soon enough and would release the belt with a simple adjustment, a pressure she hadn’t applied, and Deepa would commend his competence. But, as if hearing her thoughts, the metal clasp abruptly popped free, a deep, internal disengagement. She fell forward, her hip bone jamming against the hard plastic. The child stopped crying and her face shifted from distress to curiosity. She rested her chubby palm against her mother’s wet cheek and laughed.
Reena Shah is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Midnight Breakfast, Electric Literature, Waxwing Magazine, Joyland, BBC, The American Prospect, National Geographic, The Guardian, and Third Coast among others. She is a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University and a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, and has received support from Millay Arts, Tin House, Sustainable Arts Foundation, and Cuttyhunk Island Residency. She is also a fiction editor at The Rumpus. For many years she was a kathak dancer and public school teacher in New York and India. She is currently at work on a novel. You can reach her at reenadshah.com and on twitter @reenashah.