the saffron grill

We ordered samosas and garlic naan and bowls of basmati rice to be passed around and covered in different colored curries. Aspen patted the table and patted my arm, feeling the difference between the two. She reached out for a cup of coffee and nearly grabbed hold of the rim.

“No, no,” Ken said, and he moved the cup away.

I like to watch her toying with the idea of determination. She reached out once more for the coffee and cried out when her little fingers were met with empty air.

The owner of Saffron Grill is a marvelous Indian woman, dark skinned, dark eyes, breasts that meet belly and arms meant for holding onto the shoulders of another human being. She came to our table and reached her hands out to Aspen, motioning inwards. I tossed the little baby’s body in the air once to get her smiling, caught her, and handed her off. 

Aspen looked wide-eyed back at me, head bobbing as she was carried away into the kitchen. I heard men setting down pots and knives, calling out and singing to Aspen as she met them all, one by one. My mother heart broke open. A stranger had carried my child away, and though she was safe, I felt resistance simmering within my womb. 

Lately I’ve been surrendering more and more to motherhood. When I want to hold on, to protect with all I have, to hold Aspen instead of allowing her to crawl, to stand, to fall, I breathe in. I close my eyes. I surrender. And that’s what I did then, too. I spooned some cashew cream over my rice and dipped the salty corner of a samosa into chutney. I heard Aspen laughing from behind the kitchen wall, and I could feel her joy as if it were my own. 

It was my own, really.