Friday, April 08, 2011


After your lip was bit, kiss was hiss, your sleep
was a warm body snoring next to you. Your dreams
were the breeze outside bolted windows. Your thoughts
hooted from the banyan trees planted by your ancestors.

Biting your own lip brings luck, said your mother,
but you knew blood tastes like ocean water, your age
was little/ eleven but the gashes in your memory were as large
as in the wartime stories your grandma retrieved for you.

Last week your friend's father came home with Sri Lankan
blood in his veins, on his hands, and in his last evening
you heard him say, the mission was for peace, but the debris
of blown-up huts pricked my chest exactly where they pinned my medals.

The Kashmiri Pandit girl in your class hasn't smiled for six months,
her mother was molested, knifed before her family was exiled.
She confided in you, no Hindu Gods came to save us.
You worry for your mother who fasts and trusts her divinities.

Your father sullenly shakes his head, while college students burn
themselves, opposing increase in caste-based reservation. Schools
are on a forced vacation, the car-sevaks talk of building Ram Temple
in Ayodhya, and your friend's cousins fell to the bullets of Sikh separatists.

A callous cricket ball smashed the window near your desk.
Your neighbor eloped, then returned, then killed herself, or her family
murdered her, but newspapers keep printing color spreads about heroines.
You write verses. Your voice is turning coarser, so is your world-view.

Published first in Muse India, 2011

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