I see in my mind, sepia photographs of women in coffee shops.
One is sitting by the window, hand in hair, palm on cheek, looking out the window.
One is sitting with a book, not reading.
One is sitting with her coffee, waiting. Waiting waiting waiting.
And then I see Eiffel tower in black and white and next to it, a coffee shop.
I see a woman rocking back and forth on a plastic chair. Somebody has offended her and she is wondering if she should respond.
She will pause, take a deep breath, roll her eyes and let go.
I see a man with crew cut sitting with a magazine, not looking up.
Often I have thought that our cook, Shobamma looks like a teletubby in a sari. She has a green sari, a white and a cream one. When she cackles with laughter, her body shakes. Often I have wanted to sit with her and talk to her about life.
She says definitely, some day.
Will I ever be the woman in these sepia photographs?
I see my mother sitting with her big family in a black and white photograph. It looks painted and a scary time in history to have lived. She is wearing a white blouse and a printed brown skirt. Her face is round, like I have always found mine to be.
I see three women sitting and laughing at a bar. They have all let their hair open. They each have a beer mug in hand and they seem like a portrait. They seem unbothered by where they are or who is watching them.
I see women in sepia photographs taken in some far away country whose name I cannot pronounce because it is too difficult.
I see a woman in all these photographs. She is as real as I am and probably more because she is unafraid of being alone.
Here is the writing by Ila Ananya that inspired this poem.