New | Poetry | Shirin Choudhary

Image via Viedoblocks

Diaspora – Kampala

In the marketplace
Full of men and fruits
Someone is speaking to us of God –
With a Bible in hand and a voice
That cuts through shop-curtains and loading trucks.
For each time I have been asked of my religion
There is a report of another lynching in the news.
My Indian neighbour, from the city of sweets and riots,
Does not allow the help to eat from the same dish.
In this world of migration and blurring of boundaries,
We transplant our caste even onto those with no history of it.
Time and space have been misplaced in this marketplace,
And God is somewhere lost amongst the people
Desperately holding on to power in the name of culture.


In a city that is cruel to those who love it most -
Delhi – what can I give you
That you have not already taken from me?
In love and in hurt I wrote about you
Spent evenings quietened by your noise.
There are letters I wrote to my mother, never sent,
Kept in a box on a shelf we use for grandfather’s old books
To be given away to be passed on to someone who
Deserves these words more.
In these letters I have not said much
As the city engulfs every poem we write and
Waiting in traffic we forget where we were going
The heat is unforgiving and
I missed my chance when I missed the rain
So I take these hands full of letters and remember
The poems I have always used for comfort.

Love Poem

                                    We are too tired
                                        To love and
                                 It is much too easy to
                                 Get your heart broken.
                         I could write poems to you but
                         Demonetization was pointless and
              The government is arresting people for no reason and
                         It has not rained in some time and
                         The birds will not sing for free
                                  In this market economy.

                                       For Jeet

                      My friend said: it must be brave
                      To write yourself on the internet
                   And I am wondering since when did
           Language become hiding, become private property,
             Since when did writing become dispossession.
            In my mind the time blurs, was it 2014 or 2015,
        The year I met you, the year our words met each other's
                              And we learned, a little,
               That literature is supposed to be shared,
  Like a samosa broken in half or a cup of chai between friends,
            A winter morning warmed by conversation,
            And our voices are made and strengthened
                      With the voices of others.

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