The River of Your Hands

Picture 168

“The memory of my father is wrapped up in

white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.

Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits

out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,

and the rivers of his hands

overflowed with good deeds.”

( Yehuda Amichai,My Father)

Many rivers of good hands have reached out to me all my life. From the most unexpected people, making me pause and ponder…

“ Fatso-Patso”, she used to call me, that ebony colored, chubby woman with twinkling eyes. It is one thing to be teased for your baby fat when you are five and totally different when you were much older… and someone calls out your baby pet name at a bus-stop!

She of the name of the basil herb, sweet of speech and bubbly of manner had been our maid for a long time. Until she fell in love, got pregnant and got married, in that order. Such an order creates
apocalypse in our society still…well, in those days it became Mount Vesuvius first and end of the world, slightly later. She was plucky, and survived the name call-scarring. Ironically, life ended up by scarring her a lot more, in her tempestuous married life. But that brewing tempest of the scandal, had removed her from my childhood forever, leaving behind memories of wails, tears and loud words.

But when she asked almost three decades later, with twinkling eyes and graying hair, what her fatso-patso was doing,

I remembered those hands of love. I remembered being carried to the nursery school and stopping by the rail tracks as the train hooted by, clutching those dark fingers.

She chatted for long and when the bus came, surely enough, for the whole world to hear, she said, “Fatso-Patso-I am going. Give love to your amma.”

Smirks all around, and one beaming face waving from the bus window.

Hands of love…

Hands of love, they planted, they nurtured-

Some flowered, some faded on the way.

Some had pulled us back from danger,

Some had served water when needed.

Some had pointed ways,

Some wagged a stern warning;

Some had wiped tearful eyes,

Some caressed with tenderness.

Some had held on- when one was lost ,

And had let go when one found


How do I repay those loving hands,

Beautiful hands, streaming of love?

May this river stream through my fingers-

May this river flow through me-

So when I move on my dusty sojourn,

The river of your hands,

Shall remember me.


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