Baba

I have a complicated relationship with my father.

 

When people say good and evil

Do not live separately,

I know it is true,

For I have lived with my father.

 

He grew up with a strange sort of evil

Which is unleashed at home;

And outside, its face is charity.

 

I love my father

And he loves me too.

But we have crossed arms in battle

More than once.

And the battlegrounds were his ego,

And my ego,

And the claim for the more stubborn,

And the title of the more righteous.

 

My father worshipped his father,

And he grew into him.

And they both house good and evil

In their every whim.

 

You see, their evil

Came out to bite others

Into blood and broken skin.

 

But when it comes to his kids,

My father is a feminist.

And yet, we have crossed arms in battle.

 

I see political incorrectness

When he says he raised his daughters like sons.

But he uses his privilege

To give my voice an audience.

 

I remember filling out a form

For a pan card or some.

And it said to provide a parent’s name.

My defiant pen, of course,

Wrote down my mother’s.

 

My father threw a tantrum.

You see, in my country,

You only use your mother’s name

If your father is dead.

 

In his cultural context,

He saw it as my biggest slight to him.

Like I’m knifing at some cord

That ties our kin.

 

I held up my head

With my nose in the air.

I have a mother who is equal to my father.

And I’ll have the government acknowledge her.

 

So, we went to the office.

And the woman there,

Collecting the form,

Said that it is wrong.

My father raised his head

And said, ‘It’s okay. Let her.’

 

So, you see, I have a complicated relationship with my father.

 

This one time I took all his demons

And laid them in front of him.

In life-like likeness,

They screamed in ink.

He went and sat at the nearest temple

For two days.

Not a word, escaped his lips.

 

My mother did too,

On our terrace a while back.

We sat on the carpet

In the cool evening breeze.

Like always,

She told the tales of horror –

Of when she came to her husband’s place.

After all was done and said once again,

My father said he would marry us

To a man different from him.

 

You see my father is running from his demons.

And sometimes I forget –

That the birds of my thought

Wouldn’t be flying to point B,

If my father’s dreams

Hadn’t flown to point A.

 

This one time, I had written

How he had saved me from drowning

When I was aged ten.

Well, I made it a little tale

Of gratitude.

But come his birthday,

We had another fight

And he didn’t receive it.

 

When he was building his new warehouse,

He told me to design it on paper.

I told him the trees must not be cut.

My mother dismissed it –

The roots would break the concrete.

It was an impossible idea.

 

To this day,

If you visit it,

You will see great big green trees

Rising from between the bricks.

They built the warehouse

Around them.

 

An unthinkable idea

Thought up by an impossible teen.

But my father made it happen

Because I asked for it.

 

You see, even though

I am stuck in a rut

Of immigration

And paperwork;

And finding a job

Is a citizen’s dream,

My father said

I’m writing poetry at least.

 

But I write in English.

And he only speaks his

Mother’s Bengali.

Someday, I want to master his tongue,

So, I can write in his language.

And show him the colours of my dreams,

And the birds of my mind,

Oh, how wildly they fly!

 

For now, I only tell him stories

Of my stories

And my poems.

And oh, the things I have done!

Sometimes they fly outside his mind’s reach.

 

But one day, he’ll see them.

And I tell him, people will know him

Because of me.

He doesn’t question it.

He only teases that it won’t happen in his lifetime.

But I know he is proud already.

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