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The Mango as Metaphor in Paean to Healing, Transformation and Faith

Digital Marketing student Himali Katti's self-published book of poetry is titled The Soul of the Mayflower.

By William Wedo

Growing up in Mumbai, Himali Katti, a Katz School Digital Marketing and Media student, was a dreamer. The self-described introvert recalls “getting lost in my own world while classmates played around me.” My teachers and parents constantly chided me to get my head “out of the clouds.” So, for a time, she did.

Then along came Nancy Drew. The long-running girl-detective book series contained everything she loved – adventures, mysteries, romance, friendship. It inspired the young Himali to become a voracious reader of fiction and nonfiction. Most important, it sparked her to start dreaming again.

Only this time, she put her dreams into action. She began writing. At age 16 she was writing poems, at 21 she was a blogger. That led her to a job as an account manager at a leading Indian ad agency in Mumbai and ultimately to content writer. But her dreams didn’t end there. Himali wanted more. Through a consulting firm called Learning Edge, Himali discovered the M.S. in Digital Marketing program at the Katz School.

“YU has a great program with a variety of subjects and coursework that can be taken at my own pace,” she said.

So she began her studies online from home with the dream of attending classes in New York City. Then the pandemic hit. Two separate Covid surges kept Himali from coming to America.

“For me, it felt like my whole world fell apart,” she said. “The storyteller in me, who was promised the world, felt trapped and betrayed by this sudden twist of fate.”

While that dream was put on hold, she pursued another—to self-publish her first book, The Soul of the Mayflower, a collection of poems about healing, transformation and faith. The title was not inspired by the legendary Pilgrim ship, but rather from her love of the sweet-smelling mangoes which ripen in May.

The Indian monsoon can strike as early as May and this can cause the mango blooms to fall away before transforming into fruits. Only the strongest “Mayflowers” survive. In what Himali terms one of “life’s many synchronicities,” she was amazed to discover that the Mayflower was one of the first ships to carry English to America. She also learned that the ship, like her, had been delayed two times from its destination and faced many storms and difficulties along the way.

“I felt a strong resonance in my own way with those pilgrims and the ship itself. It just felt like a name the universe wanted me to give to this book.”

The dream of in-person studies at YU was realized when Himali arrived in the United States in August. And, in spite of all she’s endured, she’s delighted with how everything is unfolding.

“Yeshiva University, my Zoom classmates and professors have been very accommodating," she said, "considering the online classes began at 3 a.m. for me. YU studies have opened my eyes to a whole new world. I got to work with many different types of people from different cultural backgrounds, got to hear their opinions and learn about their experiences in life. This really helped me understand a wider set of audience in terms of consumer behavior.”

She added: “For me, life in the U.S. has been all about that independent new life. It’s about going after my dreams in the city of dreams—New York.”

A line from her poem, “The Soul of a Mayflower,” describes the doer and the dreamer. “‘They’ warned her of the path less traveled But All she heard was its song, as the road that called.”

William Wedo is an adjunct professor in the M.S. in Digital Marketing and Media program at the Katz School of Science and Health.