“After all, Punjabi is spoken on both sides of the border, divided only by the script”~

This is the splintering. This is the passport
which still reads Lahore,
India. This is also the indiscretion. What
no scrubbing can erase, for the way
sameness seeps through cracks and
makes itself known. To speak my father’s
tongue is to be absent. It is to wash one’s
hair with unknown waters and allow
the knots to remain. To speak this way
is to be stranded in a different time,
to trace his home as though it were mine.
And I am still turning it around in my hands.

My father’s tongue has survived
in parts. So will I.

~“Panjab University: ‘Starting Shahmukhi script progressive step… will help us know each other’”, The Indian Express, May 21 2018.


“Rochester at Daryaganj Sunday Market”

The vendor tapes the paperback shut.
He fools most. But it isn’t new.
And after two rounds of haggling
he opens it saying look,
it is worth more my price
than yours. Take a cheaper one if–
but the foxing stains give it away.
We each compromise
and it is mine. A copy in grey and white,
Wide Sargasso Sea.

On flipping through, later
I find the pages curling
with dampness. The spine, too,
is frail. Only a small nudge
and it will come apart.
Just like that.

But I am already in the metro; the skies
are falling. The sorrow over a bad bargain
must be reaped, quickly.

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