I Have to Explain This Because I Hate the Word “bastardization” and I’m Tired of People Equating Me to Things I Am Not

By | 1 February 2022
Kumkum. Ashok tree. Cinders floating in Varanasi’s river. Chaat masala. Khatak. A tongue bitten. Brown tints of my mother and father’s mother and father’s mother and father. [          ] waiting around peepal trees to steal [          ]. Curry leaves. Mangal sutra. The tilt of your head as you look at me. Tricky questions are landscapes unplaced. As in no, I’ve never seen a field of mustard flowers [but please stuff them in your mouth the next time you ask me for directions.] As in, a woman may have been stolen on her way to pilgrimage or on her escape from her husband before she ended up here. [Or not… there is a story we all don’t know.] Survived by chowtal and [          ]. I must ask that you refrain from imagining her wrapped in a saree with a red tika in the middle of her forehead.
Demand, really.


Because descendant means [                    ]. As in the taan bellowing out of my Aja’s lymph nodes and my father’s lymph nodes and mine might make Mukesh and Kishore lovers raise their eyebrows. We pelting waist to Kes and de band. We ‘ent makin’ mudras to call cuckoos into our hands. Yuh mad? Walk up to me and say namaste and I givin’ yuh stink eye. Should I say Swagat hai mrityor and let you enter my home? [Note that if you speak to me, looking for the Himalayas in my eyes, you are not a mritr.] Walls leaking turmeric. Yellow eyes [          ] after you. Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to. Kavacham on my breath. Cream bottled green between my thighs. My uncle calls me a mutt. [If that makes you feel better about the way you see me.] Mutt mutt in the way that I go stomping eyes into molasses. Sugar cane dying teeth black. Pommecythere fishboned in the back of your throat. Mirrors as puddles rippled.


Is the woman in your mind starting to morph [away from my image]? If yuh see me, mind yuh business, eh? If you see, please refer to the wrapping paper left behind after I finished eating my doubles and aloo pie. Let its oils creep behind your eyelids and blossom into cysts. If yuh feel yuh deadin’, yuh haffi ask yuhself what karma comin’ fuh yuh. You who would like all brown to be brown [subcontinented]. I carry the women who became [               ] in my veins. I write thinking, tell me what to say. Tell me so that they stop trying to turn me into [               ] that no one talks about. The girl who spoke too much. The one who doesn’t know how to keep she blasted mouth shut. Who spends too much time writing and erasing. This first started off with something about petting the floor and imagining it as tiger’s fur. Shifting. Forcing blood out of a pin prick. Red necks and black tongues. A laugh as a laugh. Letters hidden. Rain, not clouds. Something that knows how to fall and rise back up without blemish.


Bloodlines brewed, landscapes
             distorted into film. What’s
left says speak. Preen. Flee.


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