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Book Excerpt - The Immigrant Wife: Her Spiritual Journey by Madhu Bazaz Wangu

An Excerpt from BOOK ONE

The Immigrant Wife: Her Spiritual Journey

From Chapter 17, pp. 99-101

Disappointed, she turned to leave the room.

“Wait,” her father said, his tone serious. “Wait until I settle down.”

She couldn’t believe her ears. She wanted to run and hug him, but she stood where she

was. “Take your time, Bubb. It’ll take me awhile to draw you.” She sat cross-legged on the

floor and watched him settle in.

With the concentration and skill of an artist, Bubb prepared his hookah, unwrapping

freshly bought tobacco, its aroma as intense as the smell of earth after a rain. He took out a

bit of tobacco and pressed it into an almond shape between his dry palms before placing it in

the terra-cotta chillum, the pipe attached to the hookah. With tiny tongs, he picked up hot

coals from the kangri and placed them on top of the tobacco.

He took a long puff of smoke with his eyes closed. Satisfied, he said, “Now if you are

ready, you can make my picture.” He took a few more puffs. The coal lit up and the hookah


Nervously, Shanti drew a few lines into a rough sketch. The sketching warmed up her

fingers. She began her final drawing, the only things she saw were Bubb and her drawing

pad; everything else was a blur.

She drew Bubb’s facial muscles, bushy eyebrows, narrow-set eyes, long nose, and finely

shaped lips. His long fingers and veins on the backs of his hands contrasted with the

voluminous folds of his pheran. With a careful and critical eye, Shanti drew the outline of his

body, shading the dark areas and leaving the lightest white with faint, crisscrossed lines.

Slowly, the picture of Bubb smoking his hookah emerged. Professor Chaudhari would be


As Shanti finished, Gaurav walked into the room. Seeing Shanti and Bubb alone

together, he halted.

“Look, Bhaiya!” Shanti called out. She stood up and handed her drawing to him.

Her brother looked at it and said, “Great job, Shanti!” He pointed towards Bubb and

her, “How did this happen? When did he agree? This drawing is as good as seeing you two

back together.”

Bubb gave a faint grin.

“Art overcomes all wars.” Shanti winked at her brother the way he usually did to her.

“When are you going to make my portrait?” Gaurav said.

“When you wear a pheran and smoke a hookah,” she teased.

“In that case, you just lost a model,” he joked. “You’d better stick with drawing Bubb.”

He winked, picked up something from his desk, bid them goodnight, and left. Bubb resettled

in his favorite corner and took a long puff.

“Don’t you want to see your picture?” Shanti said.

“If you insist,” he said.

Shanti handed the pad to Bubb, who sat up. “Would you hand me my reading glasses?”

he said, pointing to the bookshelf.

Shanti handed him the glasses and he put them on, adjusting the handles behind his

ears. He examined the drawing, then took off his glasses and looked away for a moment.

Then giving the drawing pad back to Shanti, he said, “Kuri, daughter, Sarasvati Divi has

favored you. Come what may, do not disregard her blessings.”

“I won’t, Bubb.”

“Do you know why Divi Sarasvati is worthy of your attention?” Bubb asked, narrowing

his eyes.

“She is the goddess of arts and sciences.”

“Yes, Kuri she is that, and also flow of creativity and imagination. She is boundless and

expansive as the sky. She is an invisible stream deep within all of us. She is the inspiration

and insight of poets and painters who soar to great heights through their work – so can you.

Remember this!”

“I’ll remember, Bubb.” Shanti’s eyes welled with tears.


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