Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Between Sisters

                                                         Ushas                        Nritti

                      My sister Nritti and I, Ushas, we                   That’s my sister Ushas for you,
                weave darkness and light. She’s The                   luminous and confused, always
                              Night who comforts through                doubting her existence though she’s
                          darkness, lifting it, letting it run                 first-born, The disturbing Dawn.
                       through her fingers and I’m The                   Believe me --- if you believe The
                              Dawn, smoothing brightness                 Big Bang Theory.
                   across the bed of the sky, arching to
                      tuck it into the horizon, awakening                 She came from nothing because
                      life to life. She’s said to turn reality                action precedes thought. Life
                                  into dreams and nightmares. I              appeared, then its consequences
                       reverse her flow, I demand the other               unfolded. Think back on your own
                       terror, action. Between the two of us                 life, our supposed choices and
                                 goddesses there’s not much to                you’ll agree. One acts, and can’t
                                                                      choose.                 fathom the fallout anymore than
                                                                                                   count snowflakes falling from a
                        Mythologies make out that chaos some              dark sky. That’s the way it is with
                                       how is translucent, a lambent               life. Ushas and I, we’ve argued
                            litchi, its stone the sky. That’s rubbish.           about who came first since
                        But my sister and I, we’ve lived in myth,           the beginning of Time. I’ve even
                                        we know each patch of earth              told her: listen, it makes for
                             produces slight variations. Someone              better metaphysics if you
                                  loses wings here, someone else               initially emerged. Come on,
                                              grows a horn there, some               make people happy! But no.
            denizen of the sky dives underwater and makes             She’ll toss her spangling mane
                               her abode in a cave of crystal lights.            of feathers, rear and blur into the
                                  That’s the way it goes. That’s the              distance as a fan of undulating
                            it went. It’s different now, the world’s             radiance. And I, Nritti, will
                                      gone global and my sister and I             be left to seep space with my
                                   co-exist, sharing domains.. You’ll             soft spread, trawl the underbelly
                                             probably read this as a loss            of the cosmos for falling stars
                                                 of identity and power but           and hush their hiss in my folds...
                               for someone who has lived as long as          I reach everywhere; that’s a
                                            I have, power is no longer an           tuck of me you sense between
                                                     interesting phenomenon.           the fingers of your thought.
                                                    Identity is another matter.
                                                                                                       But she’s got this right:
                        Identity and power are oppositional forces.           There’s no relation between
                                            More that my sister and I ever            power and identity. That’s
                           were, even when we were first conceived.          mythology. Take my example:
                                Nritti is first-born. She, the black swan           for eons I thought I was my
                                                          emerged from the dark           effect, The Night, comforting
                                                              waters of creation, its            soldiers after battle and lovers
                                                                breath and being;            torn apart by reason, helping
                                                     she ruffled her feathers              thieves, terrorists and sewer rats
                                                            so that space arose              with my swell of darkness. But I
                                                      and from the collision              was wrong. I lie beneath my
                                                         of molecules that fell              darkness, painting; I am the stir   
                                                                   from her wings            of silence, that’s my identity. As
                                                              light was born and              for Ushas, why, heaps of men
                                                         I, her twin, came into            were sacrificed to her earlier on;   
                                             being. Ushas, the white swan,           she was worshipped as a man-
                                                        swimming in radiance.           eating goddess. Well… maybe                         
                                                          Fluffing my feathers,        she crunched a couple of hundreds
                                                             birthing  universes        but she prefers dew, and look at her
                                      from disquiet. Stating separation.        now, her power done in by halogen
                                                                               Identity.            lighting but her identity brighter
                                                                                                        than ever. She’s all metaphor.
                                                   I ask: who remembers the                                                                
                                                          moment  of birth? Bet              The dark holds no terrors, it’s
                                                                 you don’t, even if              said and I should know but
                                                  you’ve put yourself through             Time’s darkness is other than
                                     expensive hypnotic pre-life trances.            than mine for Time has no
                                                         No one remembers  the           sister, no winged bird that frees
                                                                  birth of her or his            satellites of light from feathers
                                      identity. For identity is always free,           as she flies…. Time, that’s
                                                 even as it evolves. Confuse it           the tough one. One day we
                               with power and you have what you have:         too will stop, my sister and
                          wars, all this blood and pain-letting. Floods           I.
                                         the universe like a womb bursting,
                                                                              whoosh…                   Ushas hurts easily. Which
                                                                                                                  is why I’m inviting her to
                                       Nritti, my sister calls. She’s hungry                  snack on a few newborn
                                   and wants to nibble on a few emerging                 nebula, hers or mine
                           galaxies and she’s not sure if it’s part of her                 doesn’t matter, and so
                           or me. That’s power-sharing for you. That’s                soak my black solace
                                      got nothing to do with identity. Nritti,                through her bright
                                                                           I’m coming …               tenderness. Ushas…