Author Archives

Diane Mehta
I'm a writer in Brooklyn. Four Way Books is publishing my poetry collection in 2019 and I'm finishing a historical novel set in 1946 India. I've been an editor at Guernica, A Public Space, and PEN America.

A Prescription for Forgetting

Andy Holmes / Unsplash, FeverPitched / Getty, Collage by Katie Kosma

Diane Mehta | Longreads | September 2018 | 15 minutes (3,706 words)

“You’re dead,” said the meditation guide. “You’ve been dead a long time.” I start crying. “What do you see?” she asked. I whimpered, “My dad somewhere, cremated, maybe a river, gone for decades. My son is older. He has a family. He thinks of me sometimes. I can’t stand it.”

“They’ve been gone a long time. You’re fine. Part of the universe. The beginning of what you were meant to be. Does that beanbag chair in the house that you don’t like matter? What about your job and the argument you had with your boyfriend, that burger you had for dinner? Your dresses, your shoes, your jewelry, your house, your keys. Throw your keys away. Throw them into the magnetic sun. Whoosh. Do it again. Whoosh. How do you feel?”

I wiped my tears and scanned my imagination. Exploding galaxies to explore, strange dimensions, star clusters, sunbursts, Earthrise over our moon, star-forming nebula, cosmic microwave background left over from the Big Bang. What does a black hole feel like when you’re disembodied and inside of it? My mind was clear. A cool mist like summer rain while scuba diving underwater but without equipment. She continued to encourage me to throw things away. “It gets easier. Throw it away. Nothing matters. Whoosh.” I winced, then felt relieved, then felt horrible and finally caved and decided to be dead, dead, dead. As shock left me, I imagined looking around at my new home out in space: stars blinked on and off like fireflies, nearby yet distant, planets with inconceivable colors of lilac-brown and red-rust that hadn’t been refracted through an atmosphere and the curve of the turning Earth.

Everything gets easier according to everyone who believes that life is a positive cult. This guide said she used to have an argument with the world. She was angry at all corners of her soul. “I’m happier,” she said calmly. “You have a very open mind. You’ll do well here.” I panicked and came back to Earth. My feet reappeared, and my hands, which I’d watched burn away, per her instructions, grew back like a starfish regenerating its limbs. Whole again. Beanbag chair and teenager and dog and boyfriend, jobs and writing to do and the whole shebang of worries. I forced a breath out. She was wrong about me.
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Letter to a Dog Walking Service

Illustration by Wenting Li

Diane Mehta | Longreads | February 2018 | 21 minutes (5,195 words)

Dear REDACTED,

I’m writing to inform you that you have a terrible way with people. We hired you because you offered predictability in a hectic world. The point is that each day you have sent a different person to walk our dog. We’ve been polite about it. But it stops now. Imagine if every day you came home to a different husband or there was a weird substitute for your onion bagel. But I like variety, you might say. Well, imagine that your substitute for the onion bagel was a kishka and you were a vegetarian, or that the different husband you came home to every night smelled like a kishka, and you were a vegetarian. Consistency over kishkas is the point. You’re supposed to send a regular person on a regular walk on a regular schedule.

When I hired you, I told you about the migraines. Daily since March. I’m not sure how old you are, and whether you’ve had children, but a full-blown migraine is like childbirth in your head. Put it in dog terms, you say. Think of a ferocious, rabid dog inside you clawing to get out and you’re on all fours, crying, stuck with it, and you think there’s no kind of chew toy or meat treat in the world that can stop this.

A two-hour window for dog walking is just the edge of what I can handle. What happens if she is late? Then I will get angry. One of my migraine triggers is waiting. I have learned to avoid situations in which I am waiting, and now here I am stuck waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Kishka of whatever aptitude or variety to arrive. This is not okay for me. Neither is it okay for my new dog.
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