She tied her shawl, the colour of Assam tea,
around herself tightly and stepped into the Jeep.
She buckles herself in, speeding towards a future
as complex as the beading on her petticoat.
India sky simmering,
gaining heat. Under the sun,
the people are talking. In the streets, whispers of
independence float by your ears.
Dadamoshai smells like London winters
and ink-stained paper and comfort.
Manik smells like tea leaves
and fresh air and everything unfamiliar.
Both smell like change.
So do you.
Assam is a province frozen in the now,
stuck between what has been and what will be.
You remember it as a fresh start, dusty roads
and reading on the veranda when you were small.
Millions of people, all waiting.
In this country, you are Muslim or Hindu,
and either can get you killed.
Trains wind through cracks in the countryside,
and inside of the compartments, the air tastes like fear,
India sky like revolution.
The clouds jostling for room in the air.
Below, people ready themselves.
Manik’s ribs ache, a bandage
wrapped around his head.
The gun sits in his arms, loaded.
This is not the Assam you remember.
India sky like gunpowder.
The riots surge and fall back again,
and the tide washes away red.
The future is not as bright as they
had told you it would be.
India sky like monsoon season,
and then, it clears.
The storm breaks, and after,
the flag flies India green--
Green, like the nation born again.
A free verse poem that I wrote inspired by the novel Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel. Written after the style of "Saffron" by Ramna Safeer (inkywings.tumblr.com).