Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hum vaha seh yaha tuk aah gaya hain

Hum vaha seh yaha thuk aah gaya hain

Mugur yaha ahna she maan nahin ah gayi

She’s come: there to here.

What follows

is the paradox of the Indian woman: 

“I am here but still

in the land

where I learned

how to roast grains.

I breathe but not enough

to live. This place,

this place where the dirt

is not the dirt

covering my cleanest of cloths.

This place, where everybody has come:


am not


Mai yaha aah gayi hu

Mugur vo mitijis seh main pahli rahi hu

vo miti yaha ki mitiseh milti nahin

“I am Neroo.

AndI search

for my essence.”

Vaha, vaha, subha subha,

mor upne pankh deti hai

Mor upne pankh deti hai

“The peacocks in this place

in this queens-in the morning-

do not lay such

wonderful feathers

as they do

in the forest of vrndavana.”

Vaha vaha, subha subha

Doop upne ankhe deti hai

Doop upne ankhe deti hai

“When the sun

opens her eyes here,

people say, laug keta hai,

the morning is just: “Hurry up, hurry up”

Vaha, vaha; subha subha

Kudha ki yaid aati hai

Kudha ki yaid aati hai

“In the morning,

in India,

I was taught

to think of God, of the temple, of each other. To be peaceful.”

Aur yaha yaha

Subha subha

Laug upne ko hi manthe hai

Upne ko hi manthe hai

“And here



on the


Where are the marigolds, the guntis, the gurus?

“I’m a tiny woman with

black hair and

silk saris and

moth balls and

brass cups


can’t find cumin seeds

for her dahl.

My home is a flat

with thick, dirty

brown carpet

and no place

to hang my

sheets in the sun.

No chance to sleep

on the roof

under a full moon.

I am a midget

in tall, tall buildings;

a lamb lost

amongst roaring lions;

corn oil but

not almond butter.”

I can give kisses like satin

Embraces like warm honey.

I wear

golden bangles,

thin as blades of grass,

dancing on my wrists

as I pat my daughter to sleep,

Telling her to dream of the moon.

But I dream of flipping oily, hot

And gritty parathas

with the bare tips of my fingers

and making yogurt, shimmering like silk.

I cannot understand

summer swims and chlorine-drenched eyes.

I have forgotten how to breathe.

Eh, eh sahib, yaar

Suno, sunno

Yaha mera ji gutha hai

Mera ji gutha hai

Eh, eh brother.

yaar, I have been deflated.

Living is incomplete in this

Queens, in

this New York.

In this land

of golden streets

and free people,

I-am short of myself.

I search for

my essence

but live the curse

of an Indian woman

who has married