Reclaim My Space

By Anita Nahal

PROMPT — Despite ...

The West taught me a thing or two about regarding and guarding personal space. "Don’t push me too much. Don’t come closer. Don’t intrude or invade my space." Sometimes arms extended in front, a circular motion committed like Lakshmana Rekha to not come within or like Ramayana’s Sita to not venture outside the pretend line guarded by Vedic mantras. Pretend, imagined or wanting to believe. Like unspoken treaties during cold war times. Myths, moral lessons, history tutor a lot. Can guide a lot. Can mold and control oneself a lot. But what about those who step upon, smear, enter, take away our spaces? Not during war. Not during enslavement. Not in refugee camps. Just during routine living when status quo is an ache and an itch. An eternal pluviophile, I walk in the rain often, or stand under the rain shower not counting the minutes. Like Charlie Chaplin, “I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.” I busy myself dusting, washing, exercising. Or writing poetry. Or stepping and shimmying. Or being in my son’s company. Turn off phone notifications. Turn off repeat intruders. Gently, without malice, despite all, reclaim my space.


* Lakshmana Rekha: In the Hindu epic, Ramayana, this was an imaginary line that Lakshmana drew so that Sita could remain safe within. *Sita, the heroine of the Hindu epic, Ramayana


* Vedic mantras: Spiritual chanting from the Hindu religious texts, the Vedas


Anita Nahal is an Indian-American-diasporic poet, flash fictionist, children’s writer, and columnist. She has two books of poetry, one book of flash fictions, four for children, and three edited anthologies to her credit. Her third book of poetry, What’s wrong with us Kali women, is due for release by Kelsay Books in August 2021. Two of her books are prescribed in a course on multiculturalism and immigration at the University of the Utrecht, The Netherlands. Anita teaches at the University of the District of Columbia, Washington DC. She is the daughter of Sahitya Akademi, award winning Indian novelist, Chaman Nahal and educationist, Sudarshna Nahal. Anita resides in the US with her son, daughter in law and golden doodle. More on her at: https://anitanahal.wixsite.com/anitanahal