I was meant to nail
the five Ks of sanctity
into my being,
but wore only two:
a kara on my right wrist and
kesh tied into a topknot, secured
by the lotus-flower grip of
handkerchief and rubber band.
My kachhera briefs were far from
the recommended baggy ones
But good enough to contain,
when needed, the unruly bulge
of coming-of-age virility.
One day on the Ahilyabai Holkar Bridge
my brother smashed a mugger’s teeth
with his ridged iron bangle,
one of the solid Ks that encases
a Sikh’s wrist
as if in a guru’s
I would use mine to plant
noon-burnished glares into
my classmates’ bored eyes.
To make up for the kangha,
the teeth of a plastic comb would
plough my scalp’s dark topography
while Ma sang gurbani, wishing
that her head tilt back
with the imagined weight
of lush black strands.
I honoured my part of the deal,
gave her the long black luxuriance that
the alarmed barber handed me
while in the king-size mirror I saw—
instead of a vacationing teenager’s face—
my father’s sad Sikh eyes
glistening with grief
and my mother’s grip slackening
on the Guru Granth Sahib,
a kirpan grating against
the print of devotion
and collective sighs blowing
the crumbs of karma away.
I was meant to nail
Место жительства: New Delhi, Индия
Sarabjeet Garcha is a bilingual poet and an editor, translator, and publisher. He is the author of four books of poems—including A Clock in the Far Past (Dhauli Books, 2018) and a collection in Hindi—besides a volume each of translated poetry and translated prose. He was selected to serve on the panel of critical readers for the third edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage (Oxford University Press, 2009) and received a fellowship in Hindi literature (2013-14) from the Ministry of Culture of India. He has translated several American poets into Hindi, including W.S. Merwin and John Haines, and several Indian poets into English, including Mangalesh Dabral and Leeladhar Jagoori. His work has been widely published, both online and in print. Sarabjeet is the chief editor of a publishing company specializing in scientific, technical, and medical books. He is also the founder and editorial director of Copper Coin, a multilingual publishing company. He lives in Delhi.
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