From Latent Missive
When I was studying Hindi in the mountains, I told the principal of the school I had a thing for poetry, asked him to recommend books with translations. Instead, he said I should watch Bollywood movies and attempt to learn the songs. I avoided rolling my eyes though I came to realise this was good advice. The song from Aashiqui 2 was everywhere at the time and so the words came easily. I would sing zindagi ab tum hi ho to Arun with frequency. Later he would ask me the meaning, not because he didn’t understand but because he wanted to hear me say it in my language, to uncover the nuance that would only be exposed by way of native cadence.
Near the school, a sign announces a place name: Oakless.
Denoting an absence.
An empty swing holding trace of an occupant
on its moving seat: belonging is too heavy.
When people ask where I am from,
I give a place
to satisfy the question.