My father, reeking of sweat and liquor

Beat up my mother and my sisters

Reserving just a shove for me

As I was his son, a boy, the eldest born

He threw my mother on the stringed cot

Home was that space where violence reigned

Was the house owner keeping a watch

Over all of us?

We knew

The difficulty of earning enough

So that fear of hunger of the morrow

Left us, at least in our dreams

My sisters were married off,

Carefully matching the gothras

And little else, but they had learned well

By my mother›s side

One of my brothers-in-law is called

‹Na Mard› derisively by his people

For he never raised his hand on his wife

Even after the third daughter was born

I was taken from that hut of pain

By my uncle, to a place miles away

We live under tarpaulin sheets

Draped over those incomplete

Concrete rooms we ourselves built

Some of us cook our traditional food

When we pull on hookahs,

Sharing couple of bottles of bootleg

Liquor and singing songs about a home

Which never was, but something we call

For lack of a better word, home

Our grandmother never sang

She chewed tobacco and talked to God

Hacked out phlegm or cursed my mother

We send a little money intermittently

In Amma›s name, which the postman

Handed over to father, filching

A few rupees as baksheesh

Thank Providence I am a what they call a migrant

Cast out of a cruel society

Into a harsh one, which I can navigate

With my labour skills and

An adroit ability to throttle memory

Together with its plaintive twin, nostalgia.