Satya I: Tea with Satya


Photo by Julia Sakelli on


Here are a series of stories about Satya from my archives.


Satya 1: Tea with Satya

            “My mother and my sister had me committed.  They got custody of Devi.”

            Satya said this the second time we had tea together. By then I’d met Devi, a tall, filled-out girl about sixteen years old.  Devi’s eyes were a young egg blue behind black frame glasses.

            Satya was tall, too.  She gestured widely with her pale arms when she spoke.  Her voice was smoky and deep, soothing like ocean waves.

            We were drinking tea outdoors on her patio.  Satya sat in a peacock fan-back rattan chair.  Her black, curly hair looked stark against the white reeds of the chair.  Her eyes were like an endless sky.  After she spoke those words, she went silent and simply held my eyes unblinking until I had to glance away.

            I wanted to know more: why had she been committed?  How long?  How did she get Devi back?  I didn’t ask.  Those eyes of hers stopped me.  They seemed to be challenging me to ask a better question, a profound one.  So I waited instead.

            Satya took a sip of her ginger tea and said, “I don’t have any contact with my family now.  It was too painful.  There was so much bad energy.  Easier to cut off contact completely.”

            “Mmm,” I said, being as non-committal as possible.  Thinking, “It’s not so easy to get someone committed.  Or is it?  A friend told me a long time ago that in some places, it takes only three signatures.

            Satya’s dog pushed her nose through the flap of the dog door.  It was a vizla, one of those golden dogs with the racing body, like a greyhound.  She padded over to Satya and placed her head on Satya’s knee.

            “This is Belle.  She is my familiar.  My sweet old dog Lazarus died two years ago and came back to me in her.  It’s so good to have him back again.”  Satya rubbed Belle’s head and traced a symbol on it with one pale finger.

            “This is my last lifetime,” she said to me, in the same way she might have said, This is my left shoe.  “That’s why I’ve had so much to deal with, you know, tying up all the loose ends.”

            I nodded.  It made perfect sense on that patio, with Belle waving her slim tail, with the taste of ginger and lemon prickling my throat, with the shifting shadows of leaves on the warm bricks.

            “I don’t go out much here,” Satya said.  “Too much bad energy out there,” she gestured toward town and the world beyond.  “How did you like class today?”  she asked.

The studio where Satya teaches yoga is behind her house.  This is where we met when I signed up for classes.

            “It was good for me.  My back is looser than it’s been in weeks.  No pain at all,” I answered.

            Satya smiled.  “You took some furniture out of your bedroom, right?”

            I was sure I hadn’t told Satya about rearranging my bedroom.  I had finally sold my mother’s oak dresser, after long agonizing days of indecision and guilt.  I hated the piece and its memories, but I’d carried it with me for years, for moves all over the country.

            “How did you know?” I asked.

            Satya waved her hand.  “I see things sometimes,” she said.


If your middle grader has blown through Harry Potter, give them these to read.

Available on Amazon and from Handersen Publishing.