You bowed to me [poem]

How many days have you walked into my room, rice
on a tray, dal, quiet as a mouse
careful not to wake my sleeping son
Seeing my mess, some shame
an american queen, closet concubine, waiting
for the work to be done
at a desert hotel with a pool

Today for lunch I demanded plain spaghetti
“Just boil it and bring it here” I heard myself say on the phone,
disgusted with undercooked beans, abundance
of sunflower and rice bran oil, and salt
Why did i speak like this?
Tonight for dinner I requested fancy dal not on your menu, one prepared special for entitled tourists like me
“Dal Makhani, it’s possible?” I ask
“Sab kuch milega” you say

When you brought it to me, my robe
closed tight around my chest, lights low
I opened my door, my world, you entered
Placed the tray on the table, silent
You rose, met my gaze, pressed your palms in
Anjali mudra before your heart
You bowed, with care, caution
You rose, met my gaze, reached your hand for my hand.
You shook my own, firm, intentional
My breath left me
“Thank you, thank you” I said.
I meant it.
Who am I to be so proud?

I closed the door, slid the lock
and cried.

What does this sweet young man think of the woman in the robe, demanding fancy dal, and rice, on a Sunday? I looked at my reflection in the mirror.

Crying, Who am I to be so proud?

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