The Eldest Rose

“Let me tell you, madam,” VInayagam said from the kitchen doorway. “The Three Roses have specific demands. The Eldest Rose wants her toast crisp and dark. The Youngest Rose wants hers soft and served with the spiciest tomato pickle. The Middle One? Mind you, she wants only oats, not toast.” Then the late Daddykins’ manservant walked up to me. He lowered his voice. “But The Middle One slips into the kitchen every morning asking for a second coffee—when no one’s looking.”

In the meanwhile, out at the dining table, The Eldest Rose buttered her crisp, dark toast with long, graceful strokes. She was down-to-earth. But she was always calculating her planets and their positions. “My bad period—7 and a ½ years—is about to begin right now.”

“Ayyo!” Vinayagam shouted from his spot by the gas stove. “I’m always telling you to stop researching your planets. You never listen to me, do you?”

At 85, The Eldest Rose was sharper than the micro-needle she used to sew mini-saris for her 12-inch dolls. “The truth is,” she continued, unshaken, chopping her sentences with her false teeth. “I may not survive this phase.”


“Yes. I’m at that age.” Her staccato laugh bounced back and forth between fridge and wall.

“Vinayagam!” I yelled. “Bring out Trader Joe’s clover honey. Let’s treat our oldest rose well. Let’s give her some warm Modern Bread with American honey.”