For all my new friends who have recently started following this blog.....please start at the very is a good place to start to get the full impact of this fascinating tale.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


  Years before Umrao Singh Shergill married Marie Antoinette and had Amrita and Indira, he was married to Narinder Kumari, daughter of Captain Gulab Singh of Atari. She died in 1907. They had four children together - Balram, Satyavan, Vivek and Prakash. The tales of these siblings would fill a book, and their history has to be unraveled carefully, as it is too complicated and colourful to go into without a great deal of research. Umrao Singh's eldest son Balram had two sons and a daughter, Samarjeet, Ranjeet and Sumaire. This is the story of Ranjeet or Jeeti, as he was known, who on a trip to Banares to sort out some land issues, came face to face with the fabulous and exotic Madhuri.
Sitara Devi
Madhuri was born in Banares into a middle class family. She lost her parents very early in life and was raised by her uncle and aunt. From an early age she was fascinated by music and dance, and having Sitara Devi the eminent Kathak dancer as her neighbour, meant that she could slyly peep through windows to see the famous danseuse practice her art. One morning Sitara Devi caught the young Madhuri skulking around her front door, and after making inquiries as to who the child was, decided to take her under her wing and give her free instruction.
 Madhuri was a perceptive child and blossomed under tutelage, so when a film unit from Bombay approached Sitara Devi for someone who could act and dance, to play the role of baby Shakuntala in a movie, Madhuri's name was suggested. A few years later when Pancholi Studios was looking for a fresh faced heroine for their home production they too chose Madhuri. She was whisked off to Lahore where she starred in two movies 'Punji' and 'Zamindar'. Even though acting was not a  respectable profession in those days, Madhuri did well and was determined to make a name for herself in the world of cinema. She returned to Banares when there was a short break in filming, and there was introduced to Jeeti, who happened to be spending an evening drinking with her uncle.
It was love at first sight for Jeeti and he became completely obsessed with the beautiful Madhuri. He begged her to marry him and when she told him she wanted to keep acting, he promised her he would build a studio and produce movies just for her. After initially rebuffing his advances and voicing her misgivings, she found herself persuaded by his alluring charm and agreed to marry him. They moved to Saraya where Jeeti lived in a house called 'Lal Kothi' surrounded by fields, trees and lush greenery. In spite of never fulfilling his promises to her, they lived happily for a few years and had three sons - Pratap, Tej and Bhuvan. Unfortunately Jeeti who had always been a heavy drinker began to slowly degenerate into an out of control alcoholic.
It was on a train journey to Nepal to take part in one of the extravagant family hunting trips, that Jeeti happened to meet up with a strange and fascinating man who claimed to be a powerful Tantric. This person invited him to break journey at his village, where he vowed he would reveal carefully guarded secrets about the dark arts. Jeeti accepted out of sheer curiosity and found himself taking part in  bizarre rituals where he was made to eat raw meat and drink strange potions, all whilst in a drug induced haze.  After a particularly wild night, which he claimed  to have no memory of, he was informed by the Tantric that he had slept with the youngest of his seven daughters, and was now  obliged to marry her. Jeeti managed to sneak out of the village in a panic and returned to Saraya, where he told Madhuri what had transpired, always maintaining he had no recollection of the events of that night.
Nine months later Madhuri found a young girl with a baby in her arms on her doorstep. She did not have the heart to turn her away in the freezing winter weather, so asked her in, and that was the where her life took an unexpected and unfortunate twist. The young mother was Anju Devi, the Tantric's daughter, who had somehow managed to track down her oblivious bed mate. 
Jeeti claimed Anju Devi  used black magic on him to ensure he was  completely enslaved by her. The nights saw them either drinking themselves into senseless stupors or indulging in forbidden Tantric rituals behind closed doors. He began to either abuse and mistreat Madhuri or apologise for his cruelty, begging her to never leave him.  She decided to send her sons to Samarjeet, Jeeti's older brother, who lived in Punjab, since the situation in the house was getting very frightening and morbid.
A few years after turning Madhuri's life upside down Anju Devi died. Jeeti's alcoholism was now accompanied by full blown episodes of delirium tremens. He launched himself off a hill in Dehra Dun after hearing voices in his head tell him that there was a sea beneath into which he should dive, and ended up breaking his back. He barely recovered from this when he decided he wanted to feed some wild monkeys who were talking with him and was badly mauled  by one of them. He would be at the hospital every second day with some problem or the other which Victor would have to sort out. He often said Jeeti was a most affable and intelligent man when not under the influence but such occurrences became rarer and rarer.
Years of drunken abuse and melodrama followed until Madhuri finally decided to return to Banares. Her uncle and aunt refused to have anything to do with her, since she had walked out on her husband, so she had to fend for herself. Much to her horror she discovered she was pregnant and tried every trick in the book to get rid of the unwanted foetus. She was convinced she had managed to do so, but at five months felt movement, and on going to the doctor was informed she was still very much with child. She was completely devastated when she gave birth to a wizened baby girl who also had a double thumb on one hand - who would marry her with this defect, was the first thing that crossed her mind. Sadly Jeeti did not live to see his daughter and passed away a few months after Madhuri left him.
The unwelcome little girl was named Santosh and ended up as the only one of Madhuri's children to look after her till the day she died. The three sons all ended badly with drugs and drink bringing them down. Santosh was the one who put her life on hold to look after her mother, who now was suffering from an opium habit as well.
They lived a hand to mouth existence, shuttling between Saraya and Banares and eventually shifted to Delhi where concerned relatives gave them a roof over their heads. Madhuri's addiction made things more difficult and Santosh was forced to work to make ends meet - it was again family who came to her aid.
Madhuri passed away in 2000, leaving her daughter nothing but a diary of 'shers' which she had composed along her tragic way. Unfortunately Santosh was recently diagnosed with cancer and had to go through the usual course of chemotherapy, but luckily is now doing well. In spite of living a life of extreme hardship, such a strong, positive and good human being is rare to find in today's day and age. I am proud to have her as my oldest friend with whom I  share countless memories of happier times in Saraya.


A sample of Madhuri's poetry:-

Bahut bechain hu, thoda sa muskurane do
Humsafar door hai, tasauvar to saath rehne do.
Hulk bhi sook chuka, saaki bhi saath de na saki
Hamare ashk se khali hai jaam bharne do.
Dubne wale ko tinke ka sahara bhi nahin
Toofa e kashti - langar to haath rehne do.
Jala hai pankh, shama se bhi kuch malaal nahin
Sahar kareeb hai, kuch der aur tadapne do.
Katib dekh kar haalaat khud bhi rone lage
Hame ab ashk se kuch apna haal likne do.
Na kehe sakunga ki apno ne kya diya hai sila
Vazu mein mai ko lekar namaaz padne do.
Jaam khanke na kahin, kuch log kabr mein soye hai
Akela hu, hame apna toh kabr bharne do.
Chirag mazaar pe "madhu" ke naam kabhi roshan ho
Bahut thaka hu, mujhe ab chain se so lene do.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Growing up in Saraya

Sanam on an old 'shikar' trophy

The Majithia family who originally hailed from Majitha village of Punjab, settled in Uttar Pradesh when they were gifted the land by the British for services rendered. Not only that, they were also bestowed with the honorary titles of "Sir" and "Lady."  All the acreage now known as Saraya or Sardarnagar was forfeited land originally owned by Babu Bandhu Singh,a freedom fighter in the days of the Raj, who was arrested and hanged in 1857.
Sir Sunder Singh Majithia had three sons, Kirpal, Surender and Surjit. It was Kirpal who had convinced Victor, my father, to settle in Saraya and begin anew after Amrita's tragic passing. When Kirpal died, Sir Surender Singh took on the onus of looking after the family interests  of sugar mill, distillery and vast farmlands, which were held under  trust. Surjit Singh went into politics and was India's deputy defence minister under Nehru as well as the first ambassador to Nepal.
Kirpal had two sons Gurnihal and Dalip. Gurnihal and his wife Rupi were also extremely close to father. She recalled an incident that took place when she was driving with him in the family Rolls Royce to attend a wedding in Amritsar. They had refuelled along the way when suddenly smoke began to billow out of the bonnet, and the car caught fire due to a short circuit in the engine. Father  pushed Rupi out of the car and then had to physically stop the excited villagers from trying to put out the flames, because the possibility of the petrol tank bursting posed a serious danger. As they helplessly watched the car burn, father patted his pockets and  remarked with great annoyance that he had left his cigarettes in the inferno and did not know where he could get more. Rupi was absolutely livid because all her jewellery, heavy saris and priceless fur coat had been incinerated in the blaze and there was this man bemoaning the loss of his precious smokes!
Gurnihal was bemusedly known for his affinity to anything 'blue'. When he died, Rupi asked father to dispose of his collection so it would not fall into the wrong hands. I had no idea the hoard was kept in a tin trunk in one of the spare rooms, and when I innocently and curiously opened it one day I had my first introduction to the big bad world of naughty stuff. 
Sir Surender Singh and his wife had no children and were affectionately called Big Uncle and Big Auntie by the family. Big Auntie lived in 'purdah' all her life and only a few outsiders had the privilege of face to face encounters - my father off course, being one of them. On the occasions when she glided up in her Humber for a visit, all the men folk had to discreetly scatter out of sight. Her visits caused much excitement as she always carried a  small, beautifully carved, filigree box filled with silver coated 'elaichi' and 'supari' which we were allowed to dig into as  special treat.
One year Easter and April Fool fell on the same day. My mother was completely taken aback to receive a beautifully wrapped gift from Big Auntie with a shiny, purple egg plant in it. She did not know what to make of this present and was too embarrassed to ask why she was at the receiving end of such generosity, when she finally received a giggly phone call which solved the mystery - it was an April Fool's joke.....Easter egg.....egg plant....

Sanam in the garden
Surjit had three sons, Sati, Guggi and Bunny. Sati in his youth was quite the lady's man, but when he married his wife Manju he gave up all his errant ways and turned to religion and the family business. Guggi was a simple minded soul who could not hurt a fly.His marriage was arranged to the strong and beautiful Gurpreet who looked out for him all his life. Bunny was just, women,antiques and cars were what he lived for and we were all convinced he would wrap himself around a tree in one of his fancy vehicles once too often, and that would be the end of his story. He did not know anything about antiques but bought them anyway. When he invested in two valuable Ming vases, one of the older ladies in the family was heard to snidely remark  "The only thing Bunny knows about Ming is that it rhymes with his Thing!' He never read a book in his life, but would order them in different sizes to fit the shelves so they would look impressive. We were rudely refused when we asked to borrow any, since that would spoil the symmetry of the display! Bunny was married to the gorgeous Shelley who tragically committed suicide in 1987.
Then there was Franky, Kirpal's nephew who lived in Deokahi which was a couple of miles from Saraya. Franky enjoyed his alcohol and was quite the man about town, seducing many a village belle in the surrounding sugar cane fields. He married the tough and no nonsense Balraj who put an end to  his drinking and philandering and even bashed him up once in a while. We were teasing him about this one day when he sheepishly smiled and said " Once in a while I still get 'soozled' and then I beat her!" 'Soozled' quickly became another word that was added to the Egan Lexicon.
My father delivered Balraj and Franky's first born, and when we went to see the baby I was curious to know why the child had such a strangely elongated, misshapen head. I was told it was a forceps case and every thing would return to normal in a few days. Franky was doing a lot of sculpting in those days, in spite of repeated warnings from his mother-in-law that it was not an auspicious activity to do while his wife was pregnant. He naturally ignored these old wives tales, but nearly fainted in shock when he saw his son, as he was convinced his mother-in-law was right and maybe his chipping away at wooden blocks was the cause for the bizarre shaped head!  The baby with the alien looking pate is today a handsome and talented actor in Bollywood.
Saraya was a  strange oasis in the backwoods of Uttar Pradesh. Someone once asked me what the mystery was behind this private paradise - the women were all beautiful, the cars were the fanciest - a Ferrari, a Porsche, an Alfa Romeo, a Jaguar and a Rolls Royce, were some of the vehicles that made up the fleet, which even today are not so common on the roads of Indian metros.

A Cessna and Twin Beech landed on a tiny little private runway. Our idea of fun while growing up was to go up for a joy ride in one of the planes and dive bomb unsuspecting, terrified villagers. One afternoon my friend Santosh and I had taken out father's noisy old Jeep and were racing up and down the airstrip just for fun. We were pleasantly surprised to see the people on the side of the road waving at us in an unusually friendly manner and happily reciprocated the bonhomie. The gesticulating got wilder and wilder until I realised poor Sati was circling overhead in his aircraft, wanting to land and the friendly signalling was just folks trying to get us off the landing field!
Saraya also had a private stretch of railway line that networked through surrounding villages."Tweed", an 1873 Sharp Stewart 0-4-0, which was once claimed to be the oldest commercially working steam locomotive in the world, plied these lines bringing in the sugar cane from surrounding fields during the  season. We would sometimes hop on and enjoy a sooty, noisy ride  for a couple of hours. "Tweed" was quite a celebrity and every winter we had gangs of "loco nuts" from all over the world coming to admire and photograph her.
Sanam and Begum the Afghan Hound
Rare and expensive breeds of dogs freely roamed the grounds of the estate and I grew up with Great Danes, Poodles, Rottweilers, Bassets, Afghan Hounds, Setters and the usual Labradors, Alsatians and Boxers. I was the only one who picked up 'roadies' much to the amusement and sometimes disdain of the rest. 
The family elephants would be saddled up for an amble once in a while and these cross country excursions were always thrilling outings. When the last of the elephants Nainkali died, it seemed like the end of a fabulous era to me.
Sanam at the swimming pool
The lush gardens that sprawled around the bungalows could have been taken out of a Good Housekeeping magazine. The palatial homes were decorated with trophies of past 'shikars,' and shared wall space with exquisite Persian carpets and  priceless Shergil paintings. Most of the houses had their own swimming pools, and even though they were surrounded by mesh fences, it was quite common to be splashing about with frogs of various sizes,  which the young men would gleefully catch and try and stuff down our costumes!
The photographs I have put up were all taken when Sanam was a little girl, but things were exactly the same when I was growing up. It was an idyllic childhood and I am glad my daughter could experience a few years in Saraya before the Majithia family fell apart due to inheritance disputes, my father died and my mother moved away to Deolali after living there  forty six years.
I have heard that the whole property is  in a state of neglect, with the once grand bungalows now  only home to termites and white ants, and the swimming pools almost impossible to find in the wild jungle that has crept in. I will never go back because I want to remember the place as the wonderful haven I spent half my life in. I would rather not spoil those indelible memories by seeing all the depressing changes that have taken place there in the last few years.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


I have lived long enough not to ask questions
to which there are no answers -
I have lived long enough not to ask questions
whose answers I do not want to hear -
I live in fear of empty places
at the end of a journey -
I live in fear of darkness
beyond the curve of a lonely road -
I live in fear of silences
so deep and filled with menace
Where the only sound that reaches me
is the frantic beating of my heart.
I have lived long enough to know
that happiness is an illusion
And yet I live in fear of never finding it -
Even though I know it is a dream I pursue.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Egans Don't Cry

In Later Years, Victor, My Father
Victor, my father, was an extremely strong person both mentally and physically. He did not have any belief in God or religion, and was of the opinion that if there was an Almighty, and He was fair and just, then humanity would be judged on deeds rather than how many times a prayer had been repeated or a holy shrine visited.
 He was extremely impatient with those who fussed about trivial aches and pains and always made light of his own problems. He was known, trusted and accepted for his gruff bedside manner and no nonsense attitude, because he was an exceptional doctor. "Egan's don't cry!" was a phrase I grew up with and often heard when I was blubbering about something inconsequential.
I remember a time when the area was being terrorised by a vicious 'langur' who was randomly attacking passing vehicles and biting unsuspecting people. No one wanted to confront the problem because of the belief that monkeys are avatars of Hanuman. One morning as father was driving off to work in his open jeep, the simian pounced on him and tore open his arm with its massive fangs. We rushed to the hospital to make sure he was alright, only to find him dispassionately stitching up the mangled wound himself, without any help or anesthesia. All he had to say was that he hoped  the villagers would see sense and destroy the animal before it seriously hurt someone else. It became a ritual over the next couple of weeks, for me to accompany him to the hospital, where I watched in fascination as he jabbed himself in the stomach with the anti-rabies shots sans any theatrics or drama.
Father always claimed he would never retire voluntarily and often stated "The day I stop working is the day I die!" The only time he missed a few days was in 1986, when he had a nasty fall and broke his hip. As soon as he was able, he insisted on Tara Babu, his assistant, driving him to work with his plastered leg protruding out of the side of the jeep. It was only when he slipped and broke his other hip in 1996, ten years later, that he was laid up in bed for a prolonged spell, which proved to be the beginning of the end. I never heard him groan or complain, though the indignity of ill health and dependence on others was the worst form of suffering for a man of his nature. "Yoy" he would mutter under his breath once in a while, which was the Hungarian equivalent of ouch or our desi 'hai hai' but that was all we needed to hear to realise he was in agony.
Victor and Eva
 Even at the age of eighty four, before his second fall, father was still going to the hospital every day though his working hours were getting shorter and shorter. He insisted on always driving himself, and when people saw the old jeep trundling along they would scatter to both sides of the road to give him clear passage, as they knew he could not see as well as he used to. He had developed cataract in both eyes but never had them operated on as he felt it was a waste of time and effort.
Unlike many people I know, my father had no fear of death, and towards the end of his life he often said he was prepared to go anytime.He had always been a firm  believer in euthanasia and Derek Humphrey's The Final Exit was a book we had both read and discussed. I was initially chilled by the concept, but later came to believe in the principals of this controversial topic.I was convinced that if we could choose to put a beloved animal down to end its suffering, it was as important to give a human being the same respect of choice.
Towards the end of his days, father was suffering a great deal and I would spend as much time as I could sitting by his bed and talking about all manner of things, past and present, until he would tell me he was exhausted and needed to sleep. In the course of one of these conversations he asked if I would assist Tara, in expediting his departure from this world. He said it was just a question of time for him and he was fed up of living in such a debilitated, painful and pitiable state. He had worked out the medication to be administered and assured me that it would be a most serene and tranquil end.
 His heart-breaking appeal made my blood run cold  and I found myself sobbing in his arms telling him how much I loved him, how much I needed him and how I could not imagine a life without him. He held me gently till I had calmed down and then said "Do you hear yourself? All you have said is I, I, I. Why don't you stop a minute and think about how I feel in this hopeless situation."
I was far away in Adampur when he passed away a few months after this distressing incident. I still feel I broke his trust and let him down that day, because I could not be there for him in the way he needed me to be. My love for him was deep and strong but selfish, and when it came to the crunch I did not show the altruistic strength that he expected from me.
But Egans don't cry.....

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


There was a time a million years ago
When I thought the moon and stars were mine alone.
I thought I could capture moonbeams in my hands
And hold them there forever.
Stars were mere playthings - sparkling toys -
Out of which I fashioned crowns and such.

Now a million years later -
I see the moon and stars so cold and distantly mocking -
And yet I might have had them today
If I had only known the value of moonbeams, stars

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Garden in Winter
 Growing up in Saraya was a fantastical experience.  We lived in a huge old fashioned bungalow surrounded by a wildly beautiful garden, with hundreds of different varieties of flowers, potted plants and fruit trees. We grew our own vegetables, and the pleasure of plucking fresh  produce is something I still miss. Home made peach, strawberry and mulberry jam, Rosella jelly and tomato chutney were made as a routine and sadly so much taken for granted. When I was young, carnations had the most wonderfully spicy, clove-like perfume, which I don't find in the hybrid varieties today. A trip to the nursery will find me burying my nose into the foliage, hoping to get a whiff of the past, much to the amusement of the 'maalis' in attendance. Sometimes I still manage to  catch the faintest hint  of this long ago scent and these particular  'gamlas' are quickly picked up and treasured through the season.
Our house in Saraya was a completely crazy one because of our fanatic love of animals. My mother Nina, was the bird lady and I was passionate about everything that crept or crawled. Victor, my father, hated the idea of birds in cages, so all the ones we had flew about an open windowed house. If they wanted to leave they could, but surprisingly most of them chose to stay. It got so bad that neighbours used to think twice about coming over, because they never knew when a feathered friend would perch on shoulder or head and leave a little 'poopy' gift there.
 At one point of time apart from the dogs, we had Abdul and Zia the Bulbuls, Small, a Weaver bird and Tikki the squirrel, who all had run of the house. Small had a little tree in a corner of the room, with the typical 'baya' nest hanging from it, into which she loved to twine hair, thread or any other scraps she could find. At Christmas time we would leave bits of tinsel scattered about which she would hastily pick up to decorate her home with. Abdul would have a bath in cupped hands held under the flowing bathroom tap, pick food out of  plates and lay on her back in our palms for a tummy scratch. Tikki was one of the most ferocious little animals I have ever encountered and people whom she took a dislike to were very nervous when she was on the prowl. We were all at the receiving end of her moodiness at one time or another but she was such an eccentric little character that we adored her anyway.
 On one cold winter morning I walked into my  parent's bedroom with a cup of tea and found much to my amusement, father lying in bed trying to read the newspaper, with the wall mounted reading lamp behind his head switched on. He had Abdul *eggled up on one shoulder, Zia snuggled under his chin and Tikki lying spreadeagled like a little bear skin on top of his head, with her tail draped between his eyes and over his nose. They were all there for the warmth of the light bulb and he did not dare move, lest he disturb their morning bask in the artificial light.
The locals knew that whenever a baby bird fell out of its nest or an injured dog was found they could bring it to Dr Sahib's Kothi. I would pick up all the hurt puppies and bring them home, and never once do I remember my father saying I could not keep them. He would come back from the hospital with bottles of Ascabiol to treat their mange or vitamin drops and antibiotic shots if they were needed.
Whenever we were in Lucknow I would beg father to take me to Nakhas, which was the big animal and bird market. I would insist on buying the scruffiest and most diseased looking specimens and bring them home to treat and then set free. Through the years I have picked up rabbits, turtles, guinea pigs, a mongoose, mice, rats and countless birds who would have badly damaged wings and feathers from the glue used to snare them. Father would always lecture me on how I was abetting a criminal act, since needy folks would continue trapping these wretched creatures to cater to people like me who bought them. I would beg and weep and tell him it was the last time ever and he would  end up reluctantly relenting.
 On one occasion mother and I were at the Gorakhpur railway station waiting to catch a train to Lucknow, when I spotted the tiniest of puppies playing around with a piece of string on the platform. I immediately rushed to pick her up only to be confronted by a growly father who insisted we had enough animals in the house already and said I must try and find a good home for her elsewhere. I did make a few half hearted attempts at doing so while in Lucknow, but the return journey saw the little mutt tucked under my sweater in the vague hope that father would not spot the bump when he came to receive us. I thought I had got away with the subterfuge, until he put his arm around me and gently told me to let the little pup breathe from under my pullover. He knew I would never have the heart to give her away and all was in readiness at home - bed, food and water bowl. She was named Taffy and a more intelligent, adorable and friendly dog I have yet to come across. She did not leave my side for the next sixteen years and I haven't been able to love another dog with the same intensity ever again.

Eva with Tich and her beloved Taffy
 Father would always sleep with the dogs on his bed. He would be curled up like a prawn in a corner of the mattress, while the dogs sprawled comfortably around him. This annoyed mother who could not bear the grit and mud they bought up with their dirty paws, so an  ultimatum was finally given - dogs or her! A compromise was agreed to wherein the beds were separated so the dogs could still sleep with him while mother's sheets stayed clean and crisp.
Father would always give the dogs a sliver of cheese  after each meal, which mother also objected to, since she claimed it was too expensive to be feeding the dogs with. Father pointedly stopped eating the product while making sure the dogs still got their daily ration, until mum threw up her hands in resignation and did not protest anymore.
With all these creatures in the house there were the inevitable tragedies. Little Abdul drowned in the toilet bowl one night and Mum had to take Calmpose to get over it. One of the servants shut the door while Small was sitting atop it and the Calmpose strip came out again.  Zia flew away and never returned - no Calmpose this time as we hoped he had found love in the world outside. Tikki died of old age after producing many little ones in a wooden box we had put up for her in the mango tree outside the window. For years we were discomfited by a lingerie thief who stole our sexy stuff off the clothes line, and could never figure out  who would have the nerve. A certain amorous neighbour was glared at with disgust and suspicion but never confronted for lack of proof. When we took down Tikki's humble abode we found years of of missing underwear stuffed cosily into it thus letting aforesaid amorous neighbour off the hook and finally solving the mystery!

* Eggled was an Egan word describing the feeling of a warm bird snuggled into the hollow of one's neck feeling like a soft boiled egg. Egg and snuggled became eggled.

Monday, 3 October 2011



Maybe if you could have known the girl-child
who grew up alone and laughed too little -
Maybe if you could have been there to help
when she was raped and torn and bleeding -
Maybe if you could have seen the child-woman
who dug at hope with bitten fingernails
and clawed people so they wouldn't claw first -
Maybe if you could have known
all the half people who were me
You wouldn't smile and call me silly
when I hold you close and say
You've made all the difference.