As a little girl growing up in the vibrant heart of south India, I overheard my father warn a friend that a certain woman whom he referred to by name—a stranger to me—was so clever she could even “draw blood out of a stone.”
My father—a charismatic and handsome fellow gifted with a silver tongue—caught my attention with his vivid language. How I burned to meet this sorceress who could coax a crimson stream of blood out of ungiving stone! What other supernatural gifts must she possess? I wondered dreamily.
Soon after, the whole family attended a wedding in the community. In the crush of adults milling about, I heard someone greet a formidable woman—dressed in a resplendent peacock-blue silk sari bordered with gold—with the name my father had used for the woman with the magical ability. Greatly excited, I ran up to this wondrous creature on sturdy little legs and gazed up at her in awe. “Are you the woman my daddy says can draw blood out of a stone?” I demanded breathlessly. Continue reading