bicycle spokes

talk of knitting needles forged from bicycle wheels’ spokes in Nairobi

her stories repeat and consume me wholly

her intonation changes,
if only I had a brain which could contain more than just fragments
of multiple languages I’ve experienced in depth
I cannot accept that she accepts her own mortality
perhaps I’m naive, selfish
but stories are told with such fond vitality
illustrating a city in vivid sounds, shades and scents
decades distance our post scarcity
a different kind of abundance
unquenchable and skewed
limitless wants, normalized greed
she reads and watches over and over
society drowning in itself
broadcasted
flooding our home
watching
as she becomes weary of the next ones’s motives
I anger as they dilute her trust
there is such vitality
the stories repeat
repeat and consume me wholly
my only reference
beautiful accounts in broken English
dappled in Gujarati
seasoned with Swahili
embellished with pride.

Innate trust

Should you know better?
Perhaps be more advised?
I cannot know, I am two years old
I cannot know what is moral and just
I cannot know who to believe or distrust
So teach me , mother
Teach me what is right from wrong
Teach me why I can no longer hear my father’s song
Was he a bad man? Is that why I’m here?
Living with your mother, burdening
I fear
When will you visit? Soon I’m starting school
Undoubtedly, you know best
I cannot know, I am three years old
I cannot know what is moral and just
I cannot know who to believe or distrust
So teach me, grandmother
Teach me how to read and write
Teach me to brush my teeth morning and night
On the weekends, mother returned
I don’t quite understand that yet
I have many other things to learn
Verbs and interpreting the hands of clocks
Lots
Of firsts I am sure grandmother will tell you about
But I can’t really know, I am four years old
I can’t really know if there is truth in what I’m told
I can’t really know that our family home is sold
So reassure me, mother
That our new home will be home
That my new school will be kind
And my room will be my own
Once again we live together
Mother and daughter
You knew best after all, it seems
I cannot know, I am six years old
I cannot know the speed at which time passes
I only see the shape of families
Of the children in my classes
Some days a father comes, some days a mother
Some days together, never any other
Though we live together, you’re away an awful lot
But I cannot really know why
I cannot grasp concepts as complex as those
Those which mean grandmother must greet me
At the school gates
Instead of you
But you know best
I cannot know, I am seven years old
I cannot appreciate the sarcasm of your new friend
I cannot understand why he laughs at my Indian eating style
I cannot understand why you do not teach me this joke
And fail to comfort me when my cheeks obviously soak
But I am ten years old now, mother
I know that was not moral or just
I know who I can believe and who I can trust
You should have known better
I know sarcasm and can use a knife and fork, too
You are also Indian, aren’t you, mother?
You also eat with your hands
With pride, as intended
But mother, I know why he laughed
It was not you that taught me
It was the masses of children in my classes
It was the television and the radio
Music and friendships
It was something I taught myself
For I am nineteen now, mother
My father’s song plays loud
For that, I am proud
He is not a bad man
That was not the reason why

My disjointed childhood
Was not part of your plan
You did not know better
You are just a human being
But you should know what is moral and just
You should know who to believe and distrust
So I’ll teach you, mother
Teach you to forgive yourself and not pander me
Teach you to be responsible
Teach you to empathise
That the world is not black and white
That I do love you
But, I know you are not always right

apron

Saudade

A child’s fingertips

On weighted keys of ivory

(the) bittersweet sound resonates

(with) my (the) inner child (which) contemplates

Why

Each note unearths a void

(hidden) within a childhood which evades my recollection

Frustration crashes and floods into each vacant space

Yearning for (a) memory of a safe place

Unobtainable from where I sit

Each note surfaces a hit

A strike

An absence

Of something I know exists

Because my eyes observe it

Rushed into adulthood without a trace

Position of power

The smaller person in all but the physical sense

Carry your shame on your slouching shoulders

Which stoop lower as your sins manifest

Into your movements and thoughts

Into your nightmares and into your chest

Drink them down like the liquor in your glass

Unjustifiable

You cannot give back a childhood

Or resurrect how a loving home once stood

Though, once you know this truly

She will be stronger than you ever were

A woman now, she cries no longer

So, stoop low with your guilt glazed eyes

Continue being disenchanted

With your mediocre life

Understand you are the only person

Paralyzed by guilt

I am scarred but I am content

Something you will never be

IMG_20140221_175219