Friday, July 31, 2020

Prism Book Tour of Under The Shade of the Banyan Tree by Simi K. Rao

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree:

Poems, Rants, and Short Stories

By Simi K. Rao
Poetry, Short Stories
Paperback & ebook, 144 Pages
November 22, 2019

Life is not about achieving perfection, it's about reconciling with your imperfections.

Poems are fragments of life. In Simi K. Rao’s unique poetry collection for women, there are blissful moments; deep, invisible wounds; cries for help; declarations of defiance and philosophical observations. The poems and prose pieces compiling the collection are fragments of life elucidating the different phases of the human condition. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree will leave readers wanting for more and have a deep impact on women of all ages. 

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The Ritual
(A Short Story)

It happened at one of the five-star hotels, Marriott I think, the fancy one in Juhu. Thank heavens it wasn’t at his home.

The room was cavernous and daunting, with creepy shadows all over created by the hidden lighting everyone is so crazy about nowadays. I was led in by two of my new husband’s giggly cousins. I’d have loved to smack their pretty faces, but that’d have invited a huge ruckus. Besides, I was preoccupied.

I was terrified. Terrified of doing it with someone I didn’t know anything about. What little I did know could be googled on the web. But then, was my lot different from most other women? Examples were all around me— my mom, my aunts, cousins, and friends.

Maybe it was because everything had happened so fast; because I had no clue of the future; because the ghost of Rohan still clung to me like my own shadow. Because. Because. Because…

The elaborately made up bed; the cloying scent of jasmine; the milk on the nightstand—it all sent me into a state of panic.

I felt sick.

We Indians talk so much about sanskars and morality and then a single ritual authorizes sex between perfect strangers. Madness!

I was desperate to make a run for it. But my Indianness— my culture—held me back. The scenes from the aftermath played in my mind. People searching all over for me. The terrible shame. I didn’t really care. But my parents would. Besides, where would I go? No lover was waiting for me with open arms.

It was depressing, but not worth dwelling on. I was, am a practical woman.

I spied my overnight bag set discreetly in a corner. Someone had been thoughtful enough to bring it in for me. I yanked at my jewelry, not caring when it caught on the fabric of my neon pink brocade saree. I quickly changed into the new red silk nightie I had bought on an impulse a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what had prompted me to do so. It all seemed so silly now. The fine fabric felt cool on my skin.

I took the left side of the bed as it was closest to the window. That would give me something to stare at while…I couldn’t bring myself to think about what would happen next.

I lay down and was almost immediately seized by a violent shiver. Even my teeth chattered.

I tugged the cotton sheet loose and wrapped it snugly around myself and tucked it under my feet. Then I pulled the subtly perfumed heavy patchwork quilt on top. Maybe it was the weight or the warmth, but it helped me calm down.

I was about to drift off to sleep when I heard the door click open behind me, followed by the sound of creaky, new leather sandals. The muffled sound of running water in the bathroom was almost drowned out by my pulse banging in my head. I held my breath, waiting, hoping for a miracle. They say if you wish really hard for something you can make it happen.

I got the shock of my life when the bed sank under his weight. He slipped his arm around me. It was icy cold. I wrapped mine tight across my chest as he spooned my entire length with his body and nuzzled into my neck.

I squeezed my legs together and closed my eyes. His breath smelled extra minty. He was trying too hard.

“Are you asleep?”

“No,” I said quietly.

His thing rubbed into my backside. I had felt one before. In the local bus, as a schoolgirl; as a teenager and a young adult, victimized by the random sexual predator. I wanted to throw up. Instead, I tried to squeeze myself tighter and sink inside.

He tried to roll me over.

I couldn’t take it anymore. “Please Suraj! I don’t think I’m ready yet.”

It’s fair to say he didn’t force himself on me. For that, I was grateful.

About the Author

Simi K. Rao was born and grew up in India before relocating to the U.S., where she has lived for several years. The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her work and experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles, and familial relationships. Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian American women face in real life. 

She is a practicing physician, and much of her downtime is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction and poetry, and photography. She is also an avid reader and traveler and has visited many locations around the world. She has written four novels. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree is her first collection of poems and short stories. She is currently working on a new novel. 

She lives in Denver with her family. To learn more about Simi or her books, visit or find her on Facebook.

Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

Two winners will each receive an ebook of Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree by Simi K. Rao (US only) Ends August 5, 2020               

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