East of London & The church
[ poetry - november 06 ]
East of London
She would cycle down
and bother us till we
did her summer vacation homework for her.
She would try to dazzle us with
second hand stories of London
Small Anglo Indian girl in
a large Brahmin family, but
she didn't stick out. Our den was plastered
with posters and collages of pop groups and movie stars.
All British or American, and nobody
minded. The elders of the household
were glad we listened to "English Pop"
regardless of the continent they came from. But
my mother banned her during
She showed us a paper dress
her mother had received from their London aunt and washed
delicately - "Look it's still there!"
She wore PVC pants another day,
from her London cousin. Scented
erasers, smooth plastic pens and other
bright bric-a-brac she would
sometimes be generous with. Before
she finally left for London, with
her whole family, she told us, well
within my mother's earshot: "We will never
go anywhere near Southall, that's where all the Indians live!"
Thirty years later, never having been to
England or the United Kingdom or
whatchamacallit, my mother still has no idea
where she went or where she didn't go.
Every time I close my eyes
I see a bright white Church
stretched out against a bright blue sky.
It is not the Santhome Church
My Church is too small; not grand at all.
It's just a simple one storied structure
with a Cross on its head announcing its mission.
(Why do I keep seeing Church in my head?
Especially when I do not have even a shred
of religion left in me? And, it is not even
a legitimate dream.)
My vision is washed in translucent light,
the kind of summer yellow
that stills air and stops birds in mid-flight.
And, beneath it, there is this rich, loamy earth,
full of life-giving promises. And, the scene
is so quiet and so still. But it is not serene.
No not at all.
The picture in my head is not serene at all.