I first cried where freshness itself struggled to breathe. Outside the Ganges, asthmatic, began to cower back in fear, in disgust, in disease, browning like the discarded banana peels on the roadside below.
I first cried in a dirt town where kings and queens drank to grass avenues and swaying music in the realms of history books.
I first cried where those books aged quietly in forgotten rooms.
I first cried where the streets bled out crumpling homes and cardboard stores with misspelt names, spilling children in dust dresses and hair matted into rust pieces.
I first cried where those children hung babies on their arms like my mother swung her handbag, a flag of Valentino, while stumbling on crushed cans and dog **** and foetid mud-water on the way to the dentist. And the children cried out snot, their arms perpetually reaching for a rupee from the traffic.
I first cried where white-lit department stores sprouted in defiant sanitation between eczema-covered apartment blocks in which washing lines drooped and parking was always a problem.
I first cried where many gods and goddesses resided on the footpaths decked in glitter and cloths of rouge as old men with skin weathered into mottled leather shook beneath sheets of jute on the roadside below and offered tiny flames to their gods as morning bellowed and their coughs grew worse.
I first cried where stareless men burnt their fingers on the Chinese noodles with too much chilli powder they cooked and fried and cooked for those who never saw them but to haggle over a ten rupee note, on the roadside, on every corner.
I first cried as thread-blanketed teenage girls with wrinkled faces squatted amongst cows in the middles of roads, chanting prices, in voices full of tar, of the mound of peas they were selling for that week.
I come every year.
And I'm ashamed to say I'll never live here but in my verses because I can't stand the smell of the place where I was born.