Whenever I am on the streets of Capitol Hill in Seattle, I am drawn to a corner, one of memory, as if by standing before this old house, I will unravel a clue to reconciling a past I love and a past I hate.
This house is where I learned to cook large vats of ghee, yogurt, and dahl, and make piles of chapatis. I learned to meditate, and I sewed clothes and made flower garlands for the deities, Radha and Krishna. My marriage was arranged here, and this is where my wedding ceremony was performed. I lived here when I became pregnant with my first child.
I am inside this house.
I am upstairs, inside the second story porch, my sari neatly pleated and tucked around my head and body. I worship the Tulasi plant, circling her with offerings of flowers and a ghee-lamp burning with camphor-soaked cotton balls. I sing, “vrindayai tulasi-devyai, priyayai keshavasya cha.” I kneel to offer obeisance.
In the temple room, I am among the women, submissive and entranced. We sway before the altar, arms lifted, devoted, chanting to the hauntingly beautiful trilogy of harmonium, cymbals, and drums. Musky incense smokes the air.
I wonder if the new residents sense a vibration in the walls and floors. Do they smell the lingering spices? Do they feel the hum of early morning meditation?