Daya and Dharma
by Shweta Narayan
Daya opens her eyes to the colors of dusk, though she smells and hears midday. Soft light picks out yellow and turquoise stones and the bright fire of Gul-Mohar flowers; but the heat is Surya at his fiercest, making all else pale before his glory.
She turns over, dazed and sluggish, listening to the distant clash of copper pots, breathing in spices cooked in coconut oil—then jerks upright. Why is she lazing in daylight hours? The Rajkumari, the princess, will be angry.
Why does her head hurt so? She puts a hand to it, feels something sticky. She brings her fingers to her face. Red. But only the Rajkumari and her fine ladies wear henna.
A sparrow hops into a patch of turquoise. His feathers turn as blue as the stones. Daya stares at him, then looks up into strips and swirls and diamonds of glowing color. Surya is almost overhead, a bright, veiled circle. The stones are not blue. The light is blue. And yellow, and red.
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"Daya and Dharma" is roughly 5330 words.
Shweta Narayan is a cultural crazy quilt; she's lived in six countries on three continents. It's given her something of an outsider's view, and she writes a lot about shapeshifters and people caught between worlds. She also loves using folk tales and fairy tales from all over in her stories. Shweta has work in places like Coyote Wild and The Journal of Mythic Arts, and forthcoming in Shimmer and the anthology The Beastly Bride. She was the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship recipient at the Clarion Writers Workshop in 2007. She can be found on the web at shwetanarayan.org">shwetanarayan.org.