Snakes, Husbands, Ashalota, and Us by Shaheen Akhtar

A translation of Shaheen Akhtar’s story সাপ, স্বামী, আশালতা ও আমরা  published in  Words Without Borders, June 2012.


The smoky, sweet smell of the fire, the milk dribbling on the bed from the baby’s lips, the mother’s slack sari-clad body bared—a body which Didima tries to fix by massaging oil, applying heat—all of it pulls her. She lays the baby on her legs. She rocks the baby, and sings, and in the mystery of the birthing-house, Ashalota grows up.