Amarnath Ravva

Excerpt from American Canyon


For a moment, the pujari climbs upstairs. At the end of the next room is a ladder that stretches up into the dark space above our heads. A space from which descendants climb down after talking to their ancestors. This house was built before lights and the pujari climbs down the ladder as if he had never left the house. When he was born verses were handed down to him along with a packet of clothes. A name was waiting for him. Each of its syllables mapped out his life’s task. It taught him to wash his hands frequently and to never touch meat. You are purity. Teach this to the others. It said, Never leave. When he comes back, I see he has several pieces of silk cloth in his hands, which he places on the floor next to him.