This vignette is excerpted from A Journey with Elsa Cloud, just published by Books & Co./Turtle Point Press. The story opens with a telephone call to the narrator from her estranged daughter in India who, having become a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, lures her mother to the East with the promise of an audience with the Dalai Lama. What follows is a series of adventures and misadventures, in which travels through India weave around spiritual longing, family history, and the poignant dynamic of the mother-daughter relationship. Leila Hadley lives in New York and is a consulting editor to Tricycle.

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Veronica slices another chunk from the pomegranate, symbol of rejuvenation and eternal life. Patting her mouth with a napkin, she says that Lord Buddha is often shown holding a pomegranate, a fertility symbol, suggesting an abundance of sons.

“In the ‘Song of Songs,’ Solomon compares his beloved to a ‘park of pomegranates.’ Do you suppose that’s why?” I ask. “Or do you think it’s got something to do with the Latin ponum granatum, apple of many seeds, the many facets to her character that symbolized rebirth and renewal of spirit?”

“Gosh, I don’t know. It’s a nice thought. It’sgrenada in Spanish, grenade in French, anar in Hindi. I remember Solomon saying that the cheeks of his beloved were like a pomegranate split open. I thought that was a funny image, ruby red and seedy. But you know what, Mum?”

“What?”

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