Arranged Marriage – Preeti Vangani

I have graduated in happiness

by rehearsing for happiness.


At six, I learned to fool my pet parrots

by taking an empty fist to the food bowl.

Laughed as they screeched Thank You Thank You

when I pretended to drop a morsel.

Their gratitude, less human, more habitual tickled me.

As it should’ve tickled the gods who saw me

hard sell the same fantasy to myself over & over

to fall asleep: Last milk-tooth still intact, each night

I conjured up a husband in the wall I faced. Blushed,

lowered my gaze. Here’s your chai, I’d practice saying

in ma’s voice, I packed an umbrella for you.


Ever so often, something in the house smelled like fire.

Ma opened windows, papa sniffed every knob for leaks.

I kept on praying for forehead kisses

& keepers. Between multiplication revisions, I asked ma

if it was okay if moms and pops didn’t speak

to each other for days. She continued hiding

naphthalene balls in all corners of his cupboard.

The pea-sized remedy that dispelled daily moths —

Such a wonder to watch it disappear

(like the opposite-joy of seeing a plant grow)

how could anything go straight from solid to air

without the slippery sorrow of ever being liquid.


The summer Aladdin released, we bought a twin-

cassette player with an in-built home-Karaoke system.

And for a few Sundays after, as the living room overdosed

on silence, with mum cutting up a watermelon, dad trying

to better his own time at Sudoku, I kept singing into the electric

mic, A Whole New World. Extending the cord, far as I could

for them to join in and become my background voices.

Preeti Vangani is a poet & personal essayist.  Her work has appeared in  BOAAT, Juked, Gulf Coast, and Threepenny Review among other journals. She is the Assistant Poetry Editor for Glass Journal.

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