MARHAM

Richa Nagar, Translated from original poem in Hindi, Marham, 2003

On a sad, wet Amreeki evening

in the pitter-patter of the night rain

on a whim of their own

your words

spread on my bruised heart, like marham

reminding me of Baba’s fingers

that worked tirelessly all night long to absorb my pain

from all those deep childhood wounds;

of Baba’s eyes

which I never saw heavy with sleep;

of Baba who was dearest to us

for whose amusement

we would recount the faults and failings of our ma;

of Baba who was so closely kindred to us

that only after he was gone did we figure out

that he was just an ordinary servant for our kunba

to be honest, a bonded labourer

who had no one else before or after him. So, I don’t know why 

suddenly your words…

that story Nani told…

of the princess and the jinn

penetrated my heart

and spread in ways

that reminded me of

the marham ever present

on my Baba’s fingers.

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