On Tour with Prism Book Tours
Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree: Poems, Rants, and Short Stories By Simi K. Rao
Poetry, Short Stories Paperback & ebook, 144 Pages
November 22, 2019
Life is not about achieving perfection, it’s about reconciling with your imperfections.
Poems are fragments of life. In Simi K. Rao’s unique poetry collection for women, there are blissful moments; deep, invisible wounds; cries for help; declarations of defiance and philosophical observations. The poems and prose pieces compiling the collection are fragments of life elucidating the different phases of the human condition. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree will leave readers wanting for more and have a deep impact on women of all ages.
A Cup of Chai
(A Short Story)
Roma admired the okra. Long, slender green pods neatly arranged in parallel rows in the opened crate. They were fresh, therefore presumably good, yet she went through the process of selecting them individually. She bent their tips, applying slight pressure with her fingers and chose the ones that broke with a sharp snap.
“Is this any good?”
Roma looked up, startled.
A white woman, almost as tall as she was (and Roma was tall) stood in front of her with a box of frozen palak paneer in her hands. She was smartly turned out in a navy business suit and her red-gold hair was ponytail. An ID badge hung around her neck and said Christine in big bold letters. Everything was big, shining, and bold about her.
“Do you understand English?” Christine asked.
“Huh?” Roma realized she was staring. Embarrassed, she spoke fast. “Yes I do. Sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t cook frozen. Maybe Mrs. Shah, the owner would know better?”
The woman laughed. It was a full-throated hearty laugh. “According to her, this is better than what she cooks at home. Imagine that! Better than home? Unless she happens to be a really bad cook. Gosh, I love Indian food. I just wish I could make it somehow. It seems so complicated.” “Actually, it’s quite easy. All you need is some basic ingredients. I can show you, if you wish,” Roma said, wishing she hadn’t when her offer was taken up.
“Is that a sari?” Christine asked.
“Do you mind if I touch it?”
Roma shook her head.
She watched as the woman caressed the fabric, as if it was a rare artifact. “It’s beautiful, and you wear it so well.”
Six yards of dyed cotton (synthetics irritated her skin, caused a rash, and made her sweat like a pig) that Roma chose to wrap around her gangly figure every day. She painstakingly washed it by hand, starched, (bought from Mrs. Shah’s store) and dried by hanging on the railing over the bathtub (the apartment lacked a balcony). Why did she do it?
She couldn’t come up with a simple explanation, but lately, she always wore a sari. Not the more convenient and universal salwar kurta but a sari. It was very unlike her. Back home until a few years ago, she had liked to dress like a tomboy and reap the disparaging remarks and wrath of her family. They should see her now. The sari had become her symbol, her motif, the pristinely gathered pleats and perfectly arranged pallu.
About the Author
Simi K. Rao was born and grew up in India before relocating to the U.S., where she has lived for several years. The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her work and experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles, and familial relationships. Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian American women face in real life. She is a practicing physician, and much of her down time is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction and poetry, and photography. She is also an avid reader and traveler and has visited many locations around the world. She has written four novels. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree is her first collection of poems and short stories. She is currently working on a new novel. She lives in Denver with her family. To learn more about Simi or her books, visit SimiKRao.com or find her on Facebook.
Two winners will each receive an ebook of Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree by Simi K. Rao (US only)
Ends August 5, 2020