Wednesday, November 19, 2014


i could start this story
and say that it began this morning in the kitchen,
but perhaps this narrative was better spun
some sixty odd years ago
the mitosis of a nation
(1947 )
created these demarcations
seeping into the narratives of
mine, yours, ours,

mother had warned me
'soch lo
beta, they
are Punjabis
its not Just Geography'
starry-eyed child of the world
argued with her over perpetuating labels,
perpetual stereotypes, and
'let's please
get 47 out of our system

it's just a number.

when one nation cell split
into two,
7,226,000 of me
had walked into
new labels,
and new homes.
(not easily forgotten)
who is to say
those each individual stories don't
continue to shape the narrative we
now spin on this tiled floor,
you 'othering' me as we
other-ed each other all those years ago?

i had assumed that since we
both sand-grain in hue, vehemently
opposed to injustice, inherently
poetic in nature, tone, spirit,
both sip
our chais with pleasurable urgency
the crunch of well-fried chicken,
and fault Pakistan
the minute wheels touch tarmac, yet
lovingly call it Home,
had overcome those labels of old-yore, hairline
differences between us compatriot and now, in-law
the disdain i
am failing to forget, barely
concealable in your words as you
commented on my khaliz
urdu, and said
'you're so weird, bhabi'
i now realize
that 1947, the number,
still rings its tolls
between you and i.

it is my numbers today
that make me victim now
to the labels you unknowingly
afford me and i wear,
among them
'migrant, muhajir, urdu-speaking....
(it will forever be
sawa eik, to me
and not, one fifteen')

i could fault you with that dear brother
(in law), but brother still,
that you have borrowed this 'freedom of speech' to
call me out,
better from your adopted west
over the 'aadab and tameez'
more emblematic of people of your own color.
there is no shame i speak
urdu proudly and that maybe
if my words were punjabi you
would have found them less foreign.
maybe 47 and its
subsequent narratives,
are so ingrained in our
bodies, these
accommodations, 73 years later, will never reach
the red heart core of
the core
beneath my labels
identical to yours.


will console
the starry-eyed child in my heart
we still have years left
to dream
years left to not
let the numbers define us

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