Who would choose translation
As a brand new home?
Wander in other people’s streets
Utter well-mouthed phrases only to
Tell ours we don’t belong anymore
But who can forget streets?
They show up unannounced behind closed eyes
Their names unbidden fall from tired tongues
Pavestones beckon to absent sighs
Weep piteously promise to behave if only
If only the footfalls stay familiar
The curving arches must be resisted
The dusty square forced into oblivion
Games and battles smirked away
Like insisting invisibility of rusty spots on the back of a girl’s dress
Embarrassing only if acknowledged
The streets darken for us at dusk, no lamp luminous
Aarti at their temples now clang with Others’ fervors
Flowers of offering have chosen fresh fragrances
We sneeze in reaction to unaccustomed incense
We laugh, encouragingly apologetically it is not enough
Once abandoned, these streets refuse guilty reunions
Erase our faces from old walls that hold memories of our grandfathers
Cobblestones remain hard unyielding Our weeping cannot confuse
Rains to evoke remembered aromas from redolent dusts
These streets moved away and misplaced us
Left us in a forgotten attic rusty metal trunk with broken hatch
We carry on our backs, strapped on with gods and syntax
We are no longer allowed to use.
Shefali Shah Choksi.