I Open At the Close

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is over. It’s finally over.

November is National Novel-Writing Month, the goal being to write 50,000 words in thirty days. This year I decided to take a shot at it for the first time.

A word to the wise: Try NaNoWriMo for the first time before you have a baby!

Long story short, I did not get as many words written as I’d hoped. But I did actually get more than I’d expected. (Hope for the best, plan for the worst, right?) My final word count on the morning of December 1st was 36,488. Not bad, for a working mom of a nine-month-old. In fact, that’s longer than my first draft of Finding ‘Ohana was after I spent three times as long on it!

Anyway, now that NaNoWriMo has ended, I’ve decided to post the prologue to the novel I’m currently working on. I open at the close.   ; )

***

Sweet agony. The long moments before the fog clears are filled with sweet agony. Sweet with anticipation, agonizing with impatience. I stand, naked and natural as the woods surrounding me, with my family to my left and my right.

Gehra piyo, mere chotu.

Gehra piyo, mere pyare.

We form a Circle. Without beginning, without end. By the light of the Full Moon I see them as clearly as if it were day.

Shashi jaga hai,

Aur main uske prakash tale tumhe garam rakhungi.

I am connected to them, and they to me, and all of us to all those who came before and all who will come after.

I take the goblet of Sapheda Rakta as it is passed to me and drink deep.

Gehra pina, gehra pina.

Together, as one, we Change. Pain. But not painful. It is the pain of a good stretch. We are stretching out of the constraints of who we pretend to be when we are not here. I welcome the pain, knowing it will make me stronger. This is what my body is meant to do. This is my natural state. At my core, I am Santaan Raksha.

We run. My mother, my Biji, turns first and darts into the woods. We follow.

Less than an hour ago, we arrived separately. We parked our cars on pavement, a flat and unnatural rock that suffocates the Earth below it. We walked the path, also paved at first, then dirt, but still a path clearly marked. And finally we followed the unmarked path that the Jhund has taken for generations. It brought us to this clearing. Our meeting place. And now we leave it, not by the path, but by our hearts.

I weave through the trees as though they are not separate from me. I do not have to think. I simply move. My body and mind are one. The Earth gives under my feet, cushioning and clinging. It welcomes me and spurs me on. The wind caresses me, my speed inviting it to dance with me.

This. This is what makes life worth living. This speed. This confidence in my body. This fire and exhilaration that nothing else can bring me. This connection to the woods, the trees and dirt and animals. Connection to my family, both by blood and by something stronger. Connection to myself. I truly know myself here.

This. This is freedom.

Strength of the Pack

For a moment I watch the silver light of the full moon gleaming on Biji’s back. It slides up and down her muscles as she runs. Every now and then it disappears with the thickness of the trees overhead, but it always returns as silvery as ever. It is too beautiful not to watch.

But only for a moment. I can no longer hold back. I push forward, now at the head of the Jhund. None of them can match my speed. The more I push, the more I feel my body become fluid. I am a river finding its way through and around and over the rocks in my way.

I am overflowing. My joy must be released. Without slowing down, I tip my head back and howl my gratitude to Shashi.

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