Under: A Poem

I try to meet you on even groundbut somehow always get lost.Around me are ruins of a silenceit’s difficult to clamber out of. Theynever said fishbones swallowedat nine would remain stuck in mythroat like razor blades in sand

even after forty. I pack myself into

Maa’s leather suitcase sometimes
when dad’s drunk. Don’t let Maafool you into believing he’s dead.He never died. That accident wasa sham. He’s been hiding in thecloset ever since, among weathereddiaries, moth-balled clothes, and

those letters from brazen women.

You think I’m lying? Iknew a long time ago aboutthe time when his secretary abortedand when his editors’ meetings ran all night.You were only five, too little andsound-struck to peel, litchi-like,

the flesh of words. Maa did know

it all, the way she’s always known

she was unwanted. Don’t you offerme water! You think clozaril cancure? Restore you a brand new mewho knows like you to hold her

tongue? Ask Maa and she’ll tell you

how my tongue has always beenon fire. It’s scorched black now and

the valium you offer doesn’t matter.

I am drawn by its colour though,baby yellow! You had a sash thiscolour the year you were two andall dribble. I was ten, lonely, darkand you a doll come my way! Ienvied you when dad would insistyou kiss him good-bye. Sssh! He’s

rustling through his papers now!

Any moment and that irascibilitywill break out like pox on his tongue!You pity me, think I’m mad? I dounderstand that all he wants of me isto divorce that man I never married.She’d hair as soft as the silken tresseson corn cobs when I bled open my guts

on those stairs. Her bud mouth never

opened and Maa never so much as sheda tear. The editor, of course, laughedfrom his closet. I will have nothing to dowith pictures! No epitaphs, reports, urns,wills, wreaths! Look out of the window.She’s been rocking quietly in the gardenthese eleven years without a shudder. And

he’s in here still pounding speech to silence.

Basudhara Roy is the author of two books, a monograph, Migrations of Hope: A Study of the Short Fiction of Three Indian American Writers (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2019) and a collection of poems, Moon in my Teacup (Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019). She has been an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University and has earned her doctoral degree in diaspora women’s writing from Kolhan University, Chaibasa. Basudhara’s areas of academic interest are diaspora writing, cultural studies, gender studies and postmodern criticism.

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