In airy, pink chiffon, she mimics
which is ideally
supposed to be
in gauze and stored
in a cool, dry place.
Uncle, aunty, chachi-
all sit like rooted tree stumps,
in the living room,
holding identical cups of elaichi chai.
She hears the crowing of birds outside,
her neighbour cussing at the colony chowkidar,
the petroleum cough of the retired colonel’s jeep,
the long-winded honk of the Shalimar express,
speeding past Cantt. station.
The chai is stale,
the conversation, slippery,
the aunties, incomprehensible.
Their lawn kurtas are stitched to perfection,
they speak of death and destruction,
love, loss, trauma, discrimination,
as if these were knitting patterns,
that could be happily exchanged,
over a slice of walnut cake.
Out of earshot, they say
Did you ever see
such tired eyes?
That poor child.
in a one-room flat.
Likely, cleans her own
She smells like subway and old ticket stubs,
she smells like metal rails,
she looks like the last passenger
on an empty train,
no, she won’t do.
with too much
~ Rakhshan Rizwan
Rakhshan Rizwan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and then moved to Germany where she studied Literature and New Media. She completed her M.A in British, American and Postcolonial Studies from the University of Münster and is currently a Ph.D candidate at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.