Birds with Horse Hearts – Eleanor Walsh
(Ad Hoc Fiction www.AdHocFiction.com
ISBN paperback 978-1-912095-74-2, 50pp, £7.49)
Through a series of flash fictions, we capture rural Nepal through the eyes of Avery, a young widow from Iowa, who travels to Nepal to connect with her late husband’s roots. She knows very little of his village Baghmara but to connect with her lost love she will go there no matter what. In ‘Kumari’s Cage’, the parakeet has been left out in the monsoon,
‘Kumari does not step outside the cage, but instead leans her head against the bars, repeating herself. Her language makes no sense to birds with the freedom to cross continents.’
Avery sees the country through her deceased husband’s eyes and it is refreshing as it brings back human pain and connection with others to share grief and loss. She meets a young Nepali woman, Putali, and her mother, Khusbhu – two women also struggling to build new lives for themselves – Avery becomes more embroiled in the chaotic energy of the living than the histories of the dead, pursuing a connection far deeper than the one for which she’d been searching. ‘Migration’ captures this,
‘Khusbhu bends low and rests her face against the mare’s lowered head. The white rings of the horse’s eyes pool like milk. Her nostrils balloon pathetically.
It suits Khusbhu so, to move and breathe like this, finding somewhere to put her sadness. All of us are migratory. All born too cold and unrecognised. Shivering, looking for something to wrap around ourselves, looking for somewhere there is no need to talk.’
The prose opens up old wounds that need to be healed and the essence of connection, the three women connect and enter a fusion of emotions such as longing, pain, lost love, belonging, acceptance, denial, the writer allows us to allow the entwining emotions of all three women and how it impacts on Avery and her journey to self-discovery and connecting with her deceased husband’s homeland. The struggles the women face depicts the writer’s point that pain and emotion is felt universally across borders and we are more similar as women to each other than we think.
Nusrat M Haider