Saturday, September 23, 2023
PoetryIf I had a sister - Pragya Bhagat ,...

If I had a sister – Pragya Bhagat , Delhi


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If I had a sister this is what I’d want her
to know
if she were older
then I’d tell her
that I’ve always been searching
for someone to look up to
because you were’nt around.
Had you been
I would’nt have seemed so steeped in shame
wondering about the name of the forbidden
between my legs
had you been there
I imagine
we would have shared
‘I’ll show you mine, you’d say,
‘If you show me yours’
and therefore,
in that warm darkness
we called secrets
behind closed doors,
I would look,
I would know
that every part of me
is beautiful,
because I am eager to comply
eager to please you,
my lovingly sinister
all-knowing, older sister,
you would be the author
of yet another page
in the book of what I know
and so,
I’d look.

If I had a sister, this is what I’d want her to know
if she were younger
then I’d tell her stories and braid her hair and paint her nails and-
No I won’t, I won’t do any of that
that, I imagine, is what I’d like to do
but I’d probably do
what I did to my brother
tell her scary stories, boss her around, cast spells on her, take her things
all younger siblings, I imagine, are the same
they came after, end up cuter
and get away with almost everything
and therefore, lead the way to constant resentment
but my brother, when he was born
in a bulgarian hospital on a snow August morning
when he arrived
four years after me
I wouldn’t let him go
I really would tell him stories
and paint parts of his face
so he’d look like my dolls
I always knew he trusted me
and for the first time
I trusted him
when at the age of five
he taught my nine year old self
how to ride a bike.
This, if my sister was younger,
Is what I hope our childhood is like
the sort of growing up
that bleeds from skinned knees
and smells of uncomfortable, fancy clothes and ma’s perfume
the sort of growing up
that tastes like aaloo parathas and sounds like kishore kumar songs
coupled with the cluck clucks
of papa’s shaving creamed brush
against the plastic mug
on the dining table, because that
is where the mirror was
and besides
the bathroom wasn’t big enough
the sort of growing up
that hides inside beds when they fought
and threw things
that led to praying to an unfamiliar god in sing song
because we knew the words, and we thought
the words could do things
fix things that people, my brother and I
couldn’t fix
things that insisted on being persistent
that resisted compassion
that kept them from saying
sorry to each other
which is when
my brother and I
would then resort to praying.

If I had a sister, this is what I’d want her to know
I often thought about you
but that’s because you don’t exist
I often think about what’s missing
instead of seeing what’s there
it’s called pessimism.
it’s not the best way to be
because the pain persists
it consists of I donts, and I cants, and I won’t because I cant’s
it chants in my head
all the time, even now
it makes me think
of all the ways to not.
I often plot
what’s missing
through coordinates in my head
so it’s no wonder
why I am drawn to the imaginary
the world as as I want
it to be
with all the fixings
everything on it
that, perhaps, is why I read
like words are the germs
and I’m the germ eating bacteria
like pages are mosquitoes
and I am malaria
desperate for existence in my vector’s DNA
I find myself trying to plug the holes I create
until gratitude no longer leaks through
and I’m wiating for my brother to reply
to the letter I wrote him
instead of to the sister that never was
I look forward to that day, because
it would mean what matters
no longer leaks through the cracks
that day, I am the four year old
not living in what-ifs anymore
not letting go of my brother after he comes home
refusing to accept the words – you can not keep him.
But I prove them wrong
long ago, when he was born
in a bulgarian hospital on a snowy August morning
he became a brother, the only brother I’d ever call mine
it’s about time, I let go
of the invisible sister I’ll never miss
I have a brother, though,
and this
the story of my letting go
is what I’d want him to know

Editorial Team of Indian Ruminations.


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