The market was a maze of alleys with bumpy roads, pockmarked with ditches. Narrow streets intersected in a big open space in the middle, the heart where beggars, balloon shapers, and cotton candy vendors convened amongst the cars lucky enough to find parking spots.

Haldee Raam’s shop was the third one in the middle of the third alley way. To the right was a used bookstore, a tiny place with walls of Mills and Boons, Georgette Heyer’s, Agatha Christies, Enid Blytons, and in the towering stacks Byron, Keats, Coleridge, a dictionary or two, Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island, the odd Ghaalib or Iqbaal to be found, Shakespeare mixed with Borges, Rumi, Haafez, Saadi, the random Purple Fairy Book, Peter and Jane, Burda magazines. To the right of the bookstore, on the corner by the open center, presided the naan wallah with his platform built above and around the wood fired pit, in and out of which moved fresh bread, hot fluffy moons that cooked in a minute. The two stores to Haldee Raam’s left were always shut, the ridged metal grates pulled down and locked as long as memory serves. Continue reading



Three women work side by side
The first, dimpled cheeks dusted with freckles
Red hair streaked with gray, pours liquid
From one brown bottle to another while the second
Moves from behind mountains
Of paper tearing scraps with stubby fingers,
Sticks them onto shining curves then,
Wielding a black pen,
Slashes and stabs words,
Inking labels with identification:
Coltsfoot Cleavers Codnopsis Mullein;
The third dances between counters
Knee high combat boots daintily pirouette
Shuffle and twist over the tiled floor
While she flicks her wrists and rolls
Avocado and cucumber
Inside sheets
Of seaweed.
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The Heedless Girl

There once was a pretty, young woman who lived in a little cottage off a country lane. Her name was Sseldaed, and she was vain and arrogant.

One day, a poor beggar wandering through the country lanes stopped at Sseldaed’s door to ask for food.

“Pooh!” exclaimed Sseldaed at the sight of the beggar, and she wrinkled her nose. “Why should I give food to you? I have friends coming over for dinner, and you are not fit to be seen! Go away!” She prepared to slam the door in the beggars face.
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There once was a boy. His name was Mark. His mother had abandoned Mark when he was a baby and put him in a lake to drown. But he had not drowned. Mermaids lived in the lake. Mermaids that liked a toy to tease and abuse. They had entrapped Mark in a magical net that kept him tied to the lake forever or until the net was removed from him by a human.

The net was what kept the mermaids alive. The net had to have a living being in it to feed off. Without energy to feed off, it could not supply the mermaids with life, and they would all die. Always, the mermaids kept a living child in the net to supply the net with energy and them with life. When the child died eventually, they tricked a human mother into leaving her baby in their lake as the next victim of the cruel, pitiless net. It was not hard for the mermaids to enter the human mother’s dreams and convince her that her child would be born cursed and must be got rid of.
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