I Like to Imagine Daisy from Mrs. Dalloway as an Indian Woman by SJ Sindu
Peter Walsh had brought her to England on the promise that no one should know she was Indian. Her skin was light enough, and combined with her straight, dark hair, he thought she could pass for an Italian. After all, he had appearances to keep up with his old friends and they would be scandalized to find him run back home with a married Indian woman and her two dark kids.
Her name wasn’t even Daisy. That was his doing as well. “A man like Peter Walsh should have a wife with a proper English name,” he had told her.
It was true she had wanted to come. It was true her birth country had never been kind to her. But she missed wearing sarees in the hot Calcutta summers. She missed the sound of her name in Bengali, the softness of it like warm gold, sinking one’s teeth at the slightest pressure. She missed the beach, watching nervous seafoam scuttle into the sand before the next warm wave.
She buttoned herself up in a thick wool coat. The English climate was starting to get to her, all of this smog and chill. Peter had forbidden her to go outside. He was afraid people would catch onto the fact that she wasn’t Italian if they looked at her long enough.
Now Peter had gone off to a party thrown by one of his old friends from Burton. She didn’t mind his absence, but she did mind the faraway look he got whenever he talked about Mrs. Dalloway.
Outside their little house, inside a half-mile walk, she caught the tram to Piccadilly. She loved sitting inside the tram, with its smooth wooden seats and copper handrails. She felt sophis-ticated, wealthy. Her family back in India wouldn’t even be able to imagine the kind of clean bustle she could walk through in Piccadilly Square. Motorcars with their puttering and black smoke, double-decker omnibuses in bright red, people swarming like ants from a kicked-over anthill, bicyclists trying to navigate the impossible.
If she angled her hat just right, her face fell into shadow and she could order a coffee at a small shop without being recognized. She sat outside and nursed it for hours, watching all the pretty white people go about their day under the dreary London evening. What were they think-ing in their pretty white heads? Ordinary people with their ordinary suffering.
Soon it would be time for her to head back home. Her new home, with Peter in a little brick house in Manchester. All the way on her walk to the tram stop, then on the tram, then all the way home, she whispered her own name to herself in Bengali, lest she forget it.
SJ Sindu is a Ph.D. student at Florida State University. She has received scholarships from the Lambda Literary Retreat, the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference. Her creative writing has appeared in Brevity, Water~Stone Review, Harpur Palate, The MacGuffin, VIDA, Black Girl Dangerous, and elsewhere, and her debut novel is forthcoming in 2017 from Soho Press.